Multiple outlets are reporting a large explosion in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon.
Twitter videos posted Tuesday appeared to show a massive blast near Beirut’s port, one of the busiest in the east Mediterranean. The Associated Press reported “widespread destruction” and casualties, but the full scope of the damage wasn’t immediately clear.
According to the country’s health minister, the blast left scores of casualties and inflicted severe damage on the city.
Photos taken in the immediate aftermath also showed injured people among the ruin.
Lebanon is in the midst of its worst economic crisis in decades, with its currency losing more than 80% of its value and unemployment soaring, pushing millions of people into poverty.
The crisis began last year, before the coronavirus pandemic hit: Lebanon has long relied on reserves of foreign currency, particularly the U.S. dollar, for essential imports, but political leaders and banks failed to maintain that stock or to develop the economy to produce exports and earn money. The virus-related global economic slowdown further hurt Lebanon’s economy and slashed inflows of money from Lebanese working abroad who suddenly faced reduced circumstances.
Last fall, tens of thousands of protesters staged weeks of largely peaceful demonstrations against Lebanon’s ruling elite over their failure to deliver basic services and to prevent the financial crunch. Then-Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in response.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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