Beirut explosion rocks Lebanon's capital city

By Tara John, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner, Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Zamira Rahim and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 8:59 a.m. ET, August 6, 2020
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2:14 p.m. ET, August 5, 2020

This Beirut hospital may run out of medical supplies soon

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Hospitals in Beirut are overwhelmed with casualties, with four of its hospitals out of service due to damage by the explosion. Even under this already high level of strain, Firass Abiad, CEO of Rafik Hariri University Hospital, says the situation will escalate and the death toll will climb further.

“I think that it's very likely that those numbers will increase. What we are hearing today from some of the EMS services that are sweeping buildings, that are in the vicinity of the blasts, is that they are finding bodies,” he said.

“I’m not sure we will see more survivors, but I think we'll definitely see more bodies coming in.”

The crisis comes to the city and its hospitals amid already existing challenges.

Rafik Hariri University Hospital was already running low on its medical supplies due to the financial crisis in Lebanon when Covid-19 hit, Abiad said. And in this backdrop of a surge in cases during a second wave, came the casualties from Tuesday’s explosion, completely overwhelming the hospital. Now, it’s about to run out of supplies.

“We are very close. I think, you know, when this happened yesterday, we threw everything that we had in our emergency room. We were trying to treat as much as we can. But with all honesty, if help does not arrive soon, we will be empty-handed very shortly,” he said.

The financial crisis, the coronavirus pandemic and the explosion has put his team “in the middle of a perfect storm,” he added.

“I'm a surgeon who worked through the civil war and we've seen financial hardships before. We've seen blast injuries before. We haven't seen corona before but I think that all of these together… we do not seem to see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

The way the staff at the hospital has reacted to the crisis has been “silver lining,” Abiad said.

“When this happened, part of my staff were finishing their shift and going home. And they just came back,” he said. “They were filled with empathy toward the patients and kindness. And I think the only hope I see with all of this is the ability of the human spirit to endure these hardships.”

Watch more:

12:59 p.m. ET, August 5, 2020

UK to send aid, search and rescue experts to Lebanon, foreign secretary says

From CNN's Milena Veselinovic

UK will send 5 million GBP (approximately $6.6 million) in aid to Lebanon and will also provide medical and search and rescue experts to help in the aftermath of the Beirut blast, Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told reporters on Wednesday.

Raab said he had spoken to the Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab, and that a British Navy ship was "in the area" and ready to help. 

12:47 p.m. ET, August 5, 2020

How to help victims of the Beirut explosion

From CNN's Lauren Lee

Wounded people wait to receive help outside a hospital on August 4.
Wounded people wait to receive help outside a hospital on August 4. Ibrahim Amro/AFP/Getty Images

At least 100 people are dead and 4,000 wounded following an explosion in Lebanon's capital city of Beirut. While it is still unclear what caused the explosion, the city is decimated with thousands of residents left homeless, a medical system strained and up to $5 billion worth of damage.

You can help raise funds for supplies and assistance so desperately needed by clicking the button in this link.

Several charities are on the ground providing medical care, shelter, supplies and other desperately needed services to help the city recover and rebuild.

You can contribute by clicking here.

12:41 p.m. ET, August 5, 2020

A televised mass showed the moment part of the church's ceiling fell because of the blast

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

A Catholic church in Beirut was televising its Tuesday mass as part of its Covid-19 safety protocols, but it was interrupted when the massive explosion went off.

Video of the service shows parts of the ceiling falling as a priest ran for cover, getting injured in the process.

Pope Francis has called on people to pray for Lebanon in the aftermath of Tuesday’s deadly explosion.

Watch the moment here from Al Hurra TV:

12:35 p.m. ET, August 5, 2020

Death toll increases to 135, health minister says

From CNN’s Mohammed Tawfeeq and Mostafa Salem

The death toll for Tuesday’s blast increased to 135, Lebanon’s Health Minister Hamad Hassan told Al-Manar television.

Another 5,000 people are wounded and dozens more are still missing, he said. 

“Unfortunately the number of martyrs is increasing,” Hassan told a reporter on Al-Manar television. “The wounded have reached 5,000 and they are receiving care inside the capital and outside the capital." 

12:36 p.m. ET, August 5, 2020

21 French citizens injured in the Beirut blast, Paris prosecutor's office says

From CNN's Barbara Wojazer in Paris 

The office of the Paris prosecutor said in a statement on Wednesday that 21 French nationals were injured in the blast in Beirut.

This has prompted the Prosecutor's Office to open an "investigation for unintentional injury," the statement says, a standard procedure when French nationals are injured abroad, a source close to the investigation told CNN. 

French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Beirut on Thursday to show “solidarity” with the Lebanese people in the aftermath of Tuesday’s disastrous explosion, according to the Twitter account of the Lebanese presidency.

12:38 p.m. ET, August 5, 2020

A missing man's family says he could be trapped under the rubble of the blast site

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Ghassan Hasrouty worked in the port in Beirut where the massive explosion took place. He went to work Tuesday morning, and that’s the last time his family saw him. Now, his daughter Tatiana Hasrouty said she is considering the possibility that he’s trapped under rubble.

“We don't know how he's feeling, if he's in pain, if he's asking for help. We don't know how he is," she said.

Hasrouty expressed her frustration with the government’s response to the disaster, saying the authorities are not searching the blast site.

“No authority is searching for them where they are,” Hasrouty says. “They say they don't have the capabilities, they don't have machines or construction machines to remove the rocks to find them. But we know for him and other workers of his, they are stuck there.”

“We don't really know what to do,” she added. "It's really frustrating and devastating.”

She said no authority has contacted the family.

“If it wasn’t for me, I posted the tweet on Twitter, nobody would know my father was there, and nobody would know my father is lost now," she said.

Watch Tatiana's plea:

11:47 a.m. ET, August 5, 2020

Inside a home destroyed by the deadly explosion in Beirut

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman went inside a home overlooking the port where Tuesday’s massive explosion took place in Beirut. The home was inhabited by an elderly couple.

“When the blast happened, the walls just collapsed,” wounding the woman who was in bed, Wedeman reports. She is severely wounded and in the hospital. “The bed is still stained with her blood.”

Looking out through the walls of the home that have collapsed, Wedeman describes the state of the warehouse that exploded. What was simply dry ground before, Wedeman says, is now a crater, with water flowing into the area.

The Lebanese government has committed to conducting a transparent investigation into the explosion, but Wedeman says it is “scant consolation” to the families of those killed, injured and missing.

Beirut's governor said in an interview earlier today that at least 300,000 people have been displaced from their homes by the blast.

Go inside the home damaged by the explosion:

11:37 a.m. ET, August 5, 2020

Lebanon authorities declare Beirut a "disaster city" and impose state of emergency

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq in Atlanta

An aerial view of Beirut.
An aerial view of Beirut. AFP/Getty Images

Lebanese authorities declared Beirut a “disaster city" on Wednesday, according to Lebanon State-run NNA news, citing a statement released by the country’s Minister of Information Manal Abdel Samad Najd.

A state of emergency has been declared in Beirut for two weeks, Najd said in the statement, adding this could be extended.

The country’s Council of Ministers made the two decisions on Wednesday in an “extraordinary session” headed by President Michel Aoun and in the presence of the prime minister.

"The highest military authority is immediately responsible for maintaining security," Najd said in the statement. "The government asked the Ministry of Works to take the necessary steps to secure import and export operations, especially in the ports of Tripoli and Sidon.”

It was also decided in the extraordinary session "to instruct the High Relief Commission to secure shelter for families whose homes are no longer fit for housing, open schools and hotels to receive citizens, and request from the security services to ensure Not to tamper with the crime scene," the statement said.