The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Gutteres, on Tuesday expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the people and Government of Lebanon, following the horrific explosions in Beirut on the same day.
Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General said Gutteres wishes a speedy recovery to the injured, including several United Nations personnel working in Lebanon.
“The United Nations remains committed to supporting Lebanon at this difficult time, and is actively assisting in the response to this incident”, he added.
Yesterday, an explosion in the Lebanese capital of Beirut killed at least 73 people and left thousands more injured, according to the country’s health minister.
He said the explosion, which wrecked devastation on the city, wounded 3,700 people.
The blast took place at the city’s industrial port, where hazardous chemicals are stored in warehouses.
Dramatic footage from around 6pm local time shows smoke billowing from the harbour area shortly before an enormous fireball explodes into the sky and blankets the city in a thick mushroom cloud.
Witnesses have stressed the sheer enormity of the blast, which was heard 125 miles away in Cyprus, and likened it to a ‘nuclear bomb’.
It obliterated the immediate surrounding buildings, where firefighters were still battling flames this evening, and even inflicted damage on districts miles away from the blast site.
“It appears that there is a warehouse containing material that was confiscated years ago, and it appears that it was highly explosive material,” Abbas Ibrahim, General Security chief said.
Lebanon’s interior minister said ammonium nitrate had been stored in the unit since 2014, with experts agreeing that the chemical would cause the red plume of smoke which burst up from the blast.
Local media are reporting that 2,700 tonnes of the chemical exploded, causing a ‘strange smell’ at the port which has led officials to instruct civilians to leave for fear of any harmful toxins.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab vowed in a televised address that ‘those responsible for this catastrophe will pay the price,’ and declared Wednesday a day of national mourning.