On Tuesday shortly after 6 p.m. local time, a huge blast shook downtown Beirut, the seaside capital of Lebanon.
It was so strong that it generated seismic waves equivalent to a 3.3 magnitude earthquake — felt in Cyprus some 240 kilometers (about 150 miles) away.
There were two blasts in short succession at Beirut’s main port. The second sent a huge red mushroom cloud up over the city.
The shockwave from the blast tore across Beirut, knocking people off their feet, destroying buildings, flipping cars and blowing out windows.
Lebanon’s government blamed the second explosion on a large store of ammonium nitrate — an industrial chemical — which caught fire and ignited.
Some of the worst devastation happened in downtown Beirut, where residents were sent running for cover as pieces of buildings rained down.
Most of the buildings in the immediate vicinity of the port were destroyed or heavily damaged by the explosion.
The blast created a 400-foot-wide crater where part of the port used to be.
It also left a trail of destruction extending out more than 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the port.
Armenia Street 0.9km from the blast site Joud Hassan took cover in his closet when he heard the sound of the first blast. After the second explosion, all of the contents of his home collapsed in front of his eyes.
Gemmayzeh Street 1.2km from the blast site Beirut’s trendy Gemmayzeh Street was covered with debris. Parked cars were crushed and the bars and restaurants that line the street were torn apart.
Nejmeh Square 1.5km from the blast site Beirut’s central district was once levelled by the country’s 15-year civil war. The scenes after the explosion were remniscent of those darker days.
Hotel Cavalier 3.1km from the blast site The Hamra area, considered the commercial center of the city, was covered in glass. The bustling neighborhood was also plunged into darkness because of power outages.
Jdeideh 4.3km from the blast site A desk at a law firm in the northern suburb of Jdeidah was littered with debris from the impact of the blast.
BeitMisk 12km from the blast site Mountain towns overlooking the capital, including BeitMisk, were damaged too. Villagers in remote parts of the country also say they heard the explosion.
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