Stunning video shows huge blast but cause and number of fatalities in Lebanon’s capital are unknown. Port is decimated. Live updates here.

Stunning video shows huge blast but cause and number of fatalities in Lebanon’s capital are unknown. Port is decimated. Live updates here.

A huge explosion shook downtown Beirut, Lebanon injuring a number people and causing widespread damage.
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A massive explosion rocked Beirut, Lebanon, with the force of an earthquake followed by a shock wave that devastated much of the city and is believed to caused hundreds of casualties.
The blast appeared to have followed a fire that had broken out in the city’s port area, based on a video from the scene. The cause of the blast was immediately unknown. The force of the blast shook buildings, which were then hit again by the shock wave that blew out windows, sending shards of glass flying.
Lebanese Red Cross official Georges Kettaneh said there were dead and wounded, but did not have an exact figure, just saying there were hundreds dead or wounded.
Beirut’s governor Marwan Abboud called it a “national catastrophe” and the prime minister declared a day of mourning, according to CNN. 
It resembles to what happened in Japan, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Thats what [it] reminds me of. In my life, I havent seen destruction on this scale,” Abboud said of the mushroom cloud.
The White House and U.S. State Department said they are monitoring the situation. 
“Having witnessed the horrific explosions at the port this evening, our heartfelt sympathies go out to the victims and their families. We mourn each loss from this terrible tragedy alongside the Lebanese people,” said U.S. Ambassador Dorothy Shea.
The cause of the blast was not immediately clear.
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Online videos showed a dark pall rising from the port, what normally might be expected from an industrial-area fire. But it is followed by an explosion, creating a massive white cloud that envelops the area. A moment later, the shock wave hits.
The blast, which occurred shortly after 6 p.m. local time, was followed by the wail of ambulance sirens through streets covered in debris.
Absolutely aghast at these visuals from Beirut. Sending love and prayers to the Lebanese people pic.twitter.com/7g7xFvJT6w
Harjinder Singh Kukreja (@SinghLions) August 4, 2020
The explosion served as a reminder of Beirut’s recent past. Over the last few decades, the city has endured its share of bloodshed from suicide bombings, attacks from neighboring Israel and a civil war. 
HISTORY:Even before explosion, Lebanon teetered toward collapse
Some local TV stations reported the blast was at Beiruts port inside an area where fireworks were stored.
lebanon #beirutThis is not a movie seen That just happened in Beirut, Lebanon.
Please pray for everyone who was there !
2020 #beirutexplosionpic.twitter.com/YxohHJC4MU
Pawan Kalyan Holics (@PSPKHolics) August 4, 2020
“If it was fireworks, as some news sources are saying — they are some damn big fireworks,” said CNN’s Beirut correspondent Ben Wedeman. He said he “never felt anything like it … [I’ve] been around the block and seen pretty large explosions … and this was bigger.”
Washington Post Beirut bureau chief Liz Sly reported “bleeding people, wreckage piled all over.”
A wounded man walks near the scene of an explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020.
 (Photo: ANWAR AMRO, AFP via Getty Images)
In late July, Israel said it thwarted an infiltration attempt from Lebanon by Hezbollah militants, setting off one of the heaviest exchanges of fire along the volatile Israel-Lebanon frontier since a 2006 war between the bitter enemies. Israel considers Hezbollah to be its most immediate threat.
Contributing: Associated Press
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