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Massive Beirut blast kills more than 60, injures thousands

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Massive explosions rocked downtown Beirut on Tuesday, flattening much of the port, damaging buildings and blowing out windows and doors as a giant mushroom cloud rose above the capital. Witnesses saw many people injured by flying glass and debris.
By BASSEM MROUE BEIRUT (AP) — A massive explosion rocked Beirut on Tuesday, flattening much of the port, damaging buildings across the capital and sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky. More than 60 people were killed and more than 3,000 injured, with bodies buried in the rubble, officials said. Hours later, ambulances still carried away the wounded as army helicopters helped battle fires raging at the port. The sudden devastation overwhelmed a country already struggling with both the coronavirus pandemic and an economic crisis: Beirut hospitals quickly filled beyond capacity, pleading for blood supplies and generators to keep their lights on. The cause of the blast, which sparked fires, overturned cars and blew out windows and doors, was not immediately known. Abbas Ibrahim, chief of Lebanese General Security, said it might have been caused by highly explosive material that was confiscated from a ship some time ago and stored at the port. Local television channel LBC said the material was sodium nitrate. Witnesses reported seeing a strange orange-colored cloud over the site after the explosion. Orange clouds of toxic nitrogen dioxide gas often accompany an explosion involving nitrates. An Israeli government official said Israel “had nothing to do” with the blast. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media. Israeli officials usually do not comment on “foreign reports.” The blast was stunning even for a city that has seen civil war, suicide bombings and bombardment by Israel.

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