Lebanon’s prime minister has called for a day of mourning today after a huge explosion killed at least 100 people and injured more than 4,000 in Beirut. Hospitals in the Lebanese capital are overwhelmed with those suffering injuries from the explosion in Beirut’s port, causing widespread damage the city and rocking the tiny Mediterranean nation already devastated by the coronavirus and its worst financial crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
“People won’t be able to rebuild their homes, businesses, livelihoods. There are reports of hospitals turning away patients because they don’t have the capacity,” said Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher with Human Rights Watch.
“Even before this blast, there have been shortages of medical equipment, protective gear. The health care capacity was already overstretched. I don’t know how hospitals are going to be able to handle these additional injuries,” she added.
Initial reports say the explosion was caused by highly explosive materials seized from a ship stored at the port. Lebanon’s dire economic crisis, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, is pushing people into a struggle for survival, Catholic and other humanitarian agencies warn, as growing numbers of families can no longer afford the basic food, electricity, hygiene, water and cooking fuel needed to live. On top of that, power cuts last up to 20 hours a day.
Photo: Smoke rises from the site of an explosion in Beirut on 4th August. Two massive explosions ripped through the Lebanese capital killing at least 100 people and injuring thousands. (CNS photo/Mohamed Azakir, Reuters)