Scott Morrison confirms at least one Australian is dead in horror blast in Beirut – with 20,000 citizens thought to be living in Lebanon
- Massive explosion in the Lebanese capital of Beirut has killed at least 73 people
- At least one Australian has been killed in the deadly blast, Scott Morrison said
- Prime minister confirmed Australia’s embassy was ‘significantly’ damaged
- Staff at Australia’s embassy in the Lebanese capital suffered minor injuries
- Ammonium nitrate had been stored in warehouses at the port since 2014
- WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Witnesses stressed enormity of the blast
At least on Australian has been killed in the horror blast in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.
The explosion has killed at least 73 people and left thousands more injured and wreaked devastation on the city.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Australian embassy had been ‘significantly’ damaged in the deadly blast but staff escaped with minor injuries.
‘It’s my deep regret to inform you that one Australian has been killed in this horrific blast,’ he told the Today Show on Wednesday morning.
‘Our hearts really go out to our Lebanese Australian community.
‘Australia stands ready to provide our support, including to any Australians affected.’
It lay waste to the immediate surrounding buildings, where firefighters were still battling flames this evening, and even wreaked havoc on districts miles away from the blast site
Dramatic footage shows smoke billowing from the port area shortly before an enormous fireball explodes into the sky and blankets the city in a thick mushroom cloud
He confirmed about 20,000 Australians lived in the city.
‘I know there will be many prayers in the churches and the mosques in Australia but given the COVID restrictions, I would just urge the appropriate response.’
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.
General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim said: ‘It appears that there is a warehouse containing material that was confiscated years ago, and it appears that it was highly explosive material.’
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.
Glass is shattered by the explosion at the Cavalier Hotel in Beirut following the explosion
A man reacts at the scene of an explosion at the port in Lebanon’s capital Beirut on August 4
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.
Israel has denied any involvement amid escalating tensions with the militant group Hezbollah along the country’s southern border.
It even joined other countries including Britain, France and several Gulf nations in offering aid to Lebanon, which is in the grip of its worst economic and financial crisis in decades.
More to come