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Hundreds injured in Beirut explosions so powerful they turned streets into wasteland (VIDEOS)

Hundreds injured in Beirut explosions so powerful they turned streets into wasteland (VIDEOS)
Huge explosions in the Lebanese capital Beirut have killed at least 10 people, local security and medical sources told Reuters. The blasts smashed buildings and turned the city’s streets into a debris-strewn wasteland.

An explosion rang out at Beirut’s port shortly after 6pm local time on Tuesday, followed immediately by another, deafening blast. The explosions obliterated buildings at the port and shattered windows several kilometers away, sending a mushroom cloud towering up into the sky. Health Minister Hamad Hassan has blamed the explosion on a fireworks accident.

As the dust settled, Hassan ordered all available hospitals to begin receiving the wounded. The head of the country's Red Cross said hundreds of injured people were taken to hospital for treatment – and some remain trapped in their homes.

Also on rt.com Many injured, major damage reported after MASSIVE explosions rock Beirut (VIDEOS)

Video footage shot in the aftermath of the blasts shows rubble-strewn streets smothered in a choking layer of dust. As car alarms sounded across several streets and smoke blotted out the evening sun, one observer described the scenes as looking “like the end of the world.”

Amid reports of hospitals turning away the injured due to lack of capacity, local media have asked the public to donate blood. In addition to local authorities, more than 30 Red Cross teams are responding at the scene of the blast.

Speaking close to the blast site, Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud told reporters that one firefighting crew dispatched to the scene is missing.

The destruction wrought by the explosion appears both severe and widespread. Glass was shattered and the ceiling caved in at the city’s airport, located some ten kilometers from the port. In between the port and airport, buildings in the way of the blast were ravaged by the shockwave.

Though Health Minister Hassan blamed the explosion on a fireworks accident, some locals claimed to have seen jets overhead. With Israeli forces and Lebanese Hezbollah militants engaged in a standoff at the border between the two countries recently, the Israeli government issued a statement saying it had no involvement in the Beirut blast. Lebanese General Security Director Abbas Ibrahim also dismissed rumors of Israeli involvement.

Also on rt.com Both Israel AND Hezbollah deny devastating Lebanon blasts were a rocket attack

A UN spokesperson told reporters that his organization is still unsure whether the explosion was "an accidental or man-made act." In Washington, the White House said it is tracking the situation closely.

After Hassan’s initial explanation of a fireworks accident, local media quoted a customs official at the port as saying the larger blast was set off when a chemicals warehouse caught fire. Security Director Ibrahim told Al Jazeera that a large cache of highly explosive sodium nitrate was stored at the site, after being confiscated off a ship several months ago.

Also on rt.com WATCH huge mushroom-like cloud cover Beirut’s docks area after ‘fireworks depot’ explodes

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