What happened? The explosion occurred just after 18:00 (15:00 GMT) on Tuesday after a fire at the port according to the BBC report.
Lebanon: Why the country is in crisis Eyewitness Hadi Nasrallah says that he saw the fire but did not expect the blast. “I lost my hearing for a few seconds, I knew something was wrong, and then suddenly the glass just shattered all over the car, the cars around us, the shops, the stores, the buildings. Just glass going down from all over the building.” he told the BBC.
The BBC’s Lina Sinjab said she could feel the wave of the explosion from where she was, a five-minute drive from the port area . “My building was shaking, it was about to fall, all windows were forced open,” she said.
The blast was also felt 240km (150 miles) away on the island of Cyprus, in the eastern Mediterranean, with people there saying they thought it was an earthquake.
BBC journalist Rami Ruhayem said there was chaos in the aftermath of the blast as ambulances with their sirens wailing inched their way through heavy traffic to get to the site. “Shards of glass blanketed the highway leading into Beirut from the north, as a tractor cleared the rubble.”
His organisation said more than 100 people had died and that a search and rescue operations was still under way to locate the more than 100 people missing.
Journalist Sunniva Rose said there was still smoke going up into the sky late into the evening. “The whole city was black. It was very hard to walk around, people were covered in blood. I saw an 86-year-old woman being treated by a doctor who had just run out of his home with a first aid kit.”
What triggered it? Officials said that an investigation was under way to find the exact trigger which caused the ammonium nitrate – which had reportedly been stored in a warehouse after it was unloaded from a ship impounded at the port in 2013 – to explode.
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