A huge explosion in the Lebanese capital has devastated communities within a six-mile radius. The circumstances of the explosion are not yet known, but Save the Children teams on the ground reported entire streets wiped out, with children unaccounted for as rescue teams work through destroyed buildings to get people out of the rubble. Residential and commercial buildings have been shattered in what is being described as the biggest explosion in Lebanon’s recent history.
Hospitals in Beirut are reporting that they are unable to treat further casualties as hundreds of beds immediately filled up following the blast. A further hospital in the capital has been completely decimated. The military has deployed to rescue those caught in the wreckage, with medical personnel treating casualties on the streets.
Save the Children confirms that its offices in Beirut, around three miles from the harbor, were badly damaged in the explosion, which shook the building and destroyed shopfronts in the neighborhood. Our rapid response team stands by prepared to support the government in their efforts in the coming days.
One of our staff members, Nour Wahid, who lives 10 minutes away, said, “At first, the building started to shake—I thought it was an earthquake. Five of my nieces and nephews were out on the balcony playing when the blast went off. They started to scream and run as the windows collapsed around them; they were all wounded. Hospitals told us they couldn’t take them in because they were prioritizing serious injuries.”
Jad Sakr, Save the Children’s Country Director in Lebanon, said:
“We are shocked and devastated by the explosion today. The death toll may not be known for several days but what we do know is that in a disaster like this, children may be hurt, shocked, and separated from their parents. Our child protection teams are ready to support the government’s efforts, which will almost certainly go on for several days to come. It is vital that children and their families get access to the services they urgently need, including medical care and physical and emotional protection.
“The incident could not have occurred at a worse time and has hit communities who were already suffering from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and the economic deterioration. Beirut’s main port, now completely damaged, is vital for much of the food, grains, and fuel that Lebanon imports, and families will immediately feel the shortage in basic needs as a result of this tragedy.”