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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2:12 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

The explosion damaged the presidential palace, state media reports

From CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali in Atlanta

The explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday dealt considerable damage to the Baabda Palace, the official residence of the Lebanese president, according to Lebanese state media.

The blast shattered the windows of hallways, entrances and salons, Lebanese state news agency NNA reported on Tuesday. “Doors and windows in several of the palace’ wings were dislocated,” it reported.

“No one was hurt,” NNA also reported.

2:01 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

At least 400 people hurt in blast taken to area hospital, nurse says

From CNN's Alessandra Massi and Nada AlTaher

Around 400 injured people have been taken to the emergency unit of the Hotel Dieu hospital after a blast rocked Beirut on Tuesday, a registered nurse on duty at the facility told CNN. 

The severity of the injuries was not immediately clear.

2:02 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

The blast was felt 150 miles away from Lebanon

From CNN's Mia Alberti

STR/AFP/Getty Images
STR/AFP/Getty Images

The explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday afternoon was felt in the neighboring island of Cyprus, around 240 kilometers away – or about 150 miles — from Lebanon, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC).

"We received a number of reports from Cyprus which seem related to this explosion, reporting noise and rattling windows," EMSC tweeted. 

Several social media users also wrote on Twitter they felt the explosion in their homes in Cyprus.  

"The explosion was felt in Limassol, Cyprus, our windows shaked (sic)," Elias Mavrokefalos tweeted. "I checked to see if we were being bombed," another Limassol resident tweeted. Another person said she also heard the explosion and felt a "light tremor" in the city of Nicosia. 

Cyprus' Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides also tweeted that he's in "communication with the Lebanese government and have informed of Cyprus’ immediate readiness to assist Lebanon."

1:54 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Red Cross puts out "urgent call" for blood donations following blast

From CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali

The Lebanese Red Cross has made an “urgent call” for blood donations from all blood types to help treat those injured in the blast in the port of Beirut today, the organization said on Twitter.

Read the tweet:

2:05 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

An explosion rocked Beirut today. Here's what we know — and what we don't know.

Mohamed Azakir/Reuters
Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

A massive explosion ripped through the Lebanese capital Beirut on Tuesday, injuring many people and blowing out windows in buildings across the city.

If you're just reading in now, here's what we know about the blast so far:

  • Where it happened: The blast appears to have been centered on the city's port area. State-run National News Agency reported that the source of the explosion was initially believed to be a major fire at a warehouse in the area.
  • Many injured: Large numbers of people were wounded in the blast, authorities said, and footage from the scene captured the injured staggering through streets in the capital. The country's health minister ordered all hospitals in the area to prepare to receive injuries. Officials have not released any specific numbers about how many people were injured.
  • Effects felt for miles: Homes as far as 10 kilometers away — or a little more than six miles — were damaged, according to witnesses. One Beirut resident who was several kilometers away from the site of the blast said her windows had been shattered by the explosion.
  • Cause is unclear: We're still not sure exactly what caused the explosion.

1:46 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

"It is like an apocalypse," eyewitness says of Beirut explosion aftermath 

Eyewitness Bachar Ghattas described dire scenes of chaos in the Lebanese capital after Tuesday's blast, calling it "like an apocalypse."

"You can see injured people all over the streets in Beirut, glass all over the place, cars are damaged, it is like an apocalypse," he said in a phone call with CNN's Becky Anderson.

It is very, very frightening what is happening right now and people are freaking out. The emergency services are overwhelmed."

"Beirut port is totally destroyed," he added about the site of the blast."We don't have a port."

1:55 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Red Cross is diverting ambulances to Beirut

From CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali in Atlanta

The Lebanese Red Cross is diverting ambulances from North Lebanon, Bekaa and South Lebanon to Beirut in order to provide support with the rescue and evacuation of patients, it said in a tweet on Tuesday. 

“Beirut Port explosion: all available Lebanese Red Cross ambulances from North Lebanon, Bekaa and South Lebanon are being dispatched to Beirut to support with rescue and evacuation of patients,” the tweet read.

1:57 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

White House monitoring explosion in Beirut

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

 Drew Angerer/Getty Images
 Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The White House is monitoring the explosion in Beirut, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.

“That was breaking as I came out here and safe to say we’re monitoring the situation,” McEnany said. 

Lebanese authorities said there were a large number of injuries following an explosion near Beirut port earlier Tuesday.  

In an earlier statement, the US State Department said it is also “closely following reports of an explosion in Beirut” and “working closely with local authorities to determine if any U.S. citizens were affected.”

1:40 p.m. ET, August 4, 2020

Lebanese president orders military patrols in Beirut

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has directed all the armed forces to deal with the repercussions of the blast in Beirut and to conduct patrols in impacted areas and in the suburbs to ensure security, state-run National News Agency said.

What we know: Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared Wednesday a day of national mourning in the aftermath of the massive explosion in the Beirut port area, the national broadcaster TeleLiban reported.