After conflicting initial reports, Lebanese officials are now suggesting that the explosion was caused by highly explosive confiscated materials rather than fireworks.
Director-General of Lebanon Public Security Abbas Ibrahim says: “The storage area contained highly explosive materials confiscated years ago. To discuss fireworks is laughable.”
“I can’t predict what the investigation will reveal about the reasons for the explosion,” Ibrahim adds.
Local media reports the materials were seized off a ship and stored at a warehouse at the port.
“What we saw looked like Hiroshima or Nagasaki. It’s absolutely unprecedented in Lebanon’s history,” says Beirut governor Marwan Aboud.
“I have never seen such widespread destruction. This is a national catastrophe. This is a disaster for Lebanon. We’re already living through days where we can barely keep going. And now this…I don’t know how we’re going to recover from this,” Aboud tells Sky News before bursting into tears
Lebanese President Michel Aoun has called an emergency cabinet meeting.
— with Aaron Boxerman