By Chris Mitchell
A massive explosion rocked Lebanon’s capital Beirut Tuesday evening. The blast took place in a storage facility at its port, and some said looked like an atomic bomb exploding because of the mushroom cloud.
One Beirut resident told CBN News “It felt like an earthquake” and he hadn’t “seen anything this big in the city since the 1983 Marine Barracks bombing.”
Eyewitnesses reported it blew out windows as far as six miles away while French TV reported it could be felt as far away as Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea more than 60 miles away.
Video posted on Twitter showed devastated upscale shops in downtown Beirut.
Two explosions took place. Many were videotaping the first explosion when a second much large explosion leveled and destroyed buildings for blocks.
Videos posted online showed scenes reminiscent of 9-11 and it’s likely the death toll could be substantial. So far, officials are reported 10 dead and hundreds injured. Lebanon’s Health Minister said there will be “a very high number of injuries.”
The destruction comes when Lebanon is facing an unprecedented financial crisis, political chaos and the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the pandemic hit, Lebanon’s currency was crashing, and tens of thousands of Lebanese had gone into the streets demanding a change in the government.
Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President for Research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies told CBN News before this explosion, “The Lebanese government is barely existing and things are going from bad to worse. This bailout that is likely needed for Lebanon could exceed the largest bailout that we’ve seen to date, which is Argentina.”
Some local TV stations reported the blast might have been an industrial accident since firecrackers were stored at the site and it was located near a fuel depot.
Regardless of the cause of the explosion, one local Christian told CBN News that Christians should pray, “That the Lebanese church would be a beacon of hope and radiate peace in these uncertain times.”
At a time when tensions have been particularly high between Israel and Hezbollah, has reportedly also denied any involvement in the explosion.