The cause of the explosion remains unclear. The government has not issued an official count of injuries or casualties. The Lebanese Red Cross tweeted that more than 30 teams were responding to the scene of the blast via ambulances.
The afternoon blast shook several parts of the capital and thick smoke billowed from the city center. Residents reported windows being blown out and ceilings dropping in.
The explosion appeared to be centered around Beirut’s port and caused wide-scale destruction and shattered windows miles away.
“I saw a fireball and smoke billowing over Beirut. People were screaming and running, bleeding. Balconies were blown off buildings. Glass in high-rise buildings shattered and fell to the street,” one unnamed witness told Reuters.
Smoke rises in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020. (Reuters/Mohamed Azakir)
“We are aware of the explosion and are concerned for the potential loss of life due to such a massive explosion,” Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said in a statement to Fox News.
A picture shows the scene of an explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020. (Photo by Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images)
Lebanon’s Health Minister Hamad Hasan told local broadcaster LBC that the explosion in central Beirut had caused a “very high number of injuries” and extensive damage.
An Associated Press photographer near the port witnessed people wounded on the ground and widespread destruction in central Beirut. Some local televisions stations reported the blast originated inside an area where firecrackers were stored.
The explosion happened just days before a United Nations tribunal is expected to issue its verdict on four alleged Hezbollah members accused of killing former Lebanon Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in a 2005 car bombing on the Beirut seafront, the BBC reported.
In this frame from video, people walk down the street after an explosion in Beirut, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. A massive explosion shook Lebanon’s capital wounding a number of people and causing widespread damage. (AP Photo)
Some reports said there might have been a second blast Tuesday across the city near the Hariri family residence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.