Following the explosion in Beirut on August 4th, Lebanese officials estimated damages from the blast between $10 billion and $15 billion as new drone and satellite images are being published online to show the aftermath.
Images from before and after the explosion show a once-thriving club and dining district shrouded in broken glass and debris, while damage to buildings can be seen extending several kilometres away throughout the city.
Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud said the blast had left nearly 300,000 people homeless and caused up to $US15 billion in damages, according to Al-Hadath TV.
The death toll is at least 135, but the search for bodies is on-going.
More than 5,000 people were injured.
Drone footage revealed the blast tore open a silo structure, dumping its contents into the debris. Estimates suggested about 85% of the country’s grain was stored there.
“Beirut as we know it is gone and people won’t be able to rebuild their lives,” said Amy, a woman who was sweeping glass from the street surrounding a building that once housed the work of a famous Lebanese designer.
“This is hell. How are [people] going to survive? What are they going to do?” she said, blaming “stupidity” and a lack of responsibility by officials for the blast.
The World Bank Group said it stood ready to assess Lebanon’s damage and needs, and would work to help mobilize public and private financing for reconstruction and recovery.
In a statement, the group said it would also be “willing to reprogram existing resources and explore additional financing to support rebuilding lives and livelihoods of people impacted by this disaster”.
Nations including Greece, Kuwait and Qatar have sent planes loaded with medical equipment and supplies to Beirut’s international airport.
Two planeloads of French rescue workers and aid headed to Beirut and French President Emmanuel Macron is also to arrive on August 6th to offer support to the former French protectorate.
Turkey sent search-and-rescue teams, humanitarian aid, medical equipment and a field hospital, its foreign ministry said.
The EU planned to send firefighters with vehicles, dogs and equipment designed to find people trapped in debris.
There have been conflicting reports of what caused the blast. Initially the explosion was blamed on a major fire at a warehouse for firecrackers near the port. But on the morning of August 5th, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said that about 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material, had been stored at the port for the past six years “without preventive measures.” That remains as the official reason, with much speculation going around in media.
Diab announced an investigation into the explosion, saying the probe would include “revelations that will be announced about this dangerous warehouse which has been present since 2014.”
“I will not rest until we find those responsible for what happened, hold them accountable, and impose maximum punishment,” he said in a statement, saying it was “unacceptable” that so much ammonium nitrate had been stored “while endangering the safety of citizens.”
There are also videos showing more disturbing images.
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