The death toll from the Beirut explosion is continuing to rise as rescue and recovery efforts continue in Lebanon's capital city. The massive explosion, which occurred just after 6 p.m. local time Tuesday at Beirut's port, has left more than 100 people dead, with more than 5,000 others injured and some 300,000 residents displaced.
As of Thursday morning, the death toll had risen to at least 137, with a health ministry spokesman stating that "toll is not final," according to The Guardian. Although the identities of most of the victims have not been released, NNA, Lebanon's state-run media, reported that the secretary-general of the Kataeb political party, Nazar Najarian, died after being critically injured in his office during the blast. Fatalities include a number of citizens from other countries, as well, with the Philippine Embassy in Beirut confirming that two Filipino citizens died, with 11 others missing, CNN reports. Officials have also confirmed that at least one Australian and one American were killed. Twenty-one French citizens, several Americans, one Japanese citizen, one Indonesian, and six Turkish citizens were also injured.
As rescue efforts continue, with multiple countries sending aid, an Instagram account called "LocateVictimsBeirut" is sharing photos of missing loved ones in an effort "to locate the individuals posted, likely victims of the Beirut explosion." There have been more than 100 posts by the account, which has amassed more than 100,000 followers. Several of the missing have already been located, many in local hospitals, which were already overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Occurring in Beirut's port, which is located near highly-populated areas and tourist sites, the massive blast is believed to have been caused by nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored in a warehouse for six years. The explosion registered as a 3.3 magnitude earthquake and was felt as far as 150 miles away in the city of Cyprus, with homes located as far away as six miles from the explosion having windows shattered. The blast, according to reports, exploded with a fifth of the power of the atomic bomb that leveled Hiroshima during World War II, leaving behind massive devastation.
"There is no word to describe the horror of the catastrophe that occurred in Beirut yesterday," Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Wednesday, CNBC reports. "I extend my heart and feelings to the families...and I ask God to heal the wounded, heal the broken hearts, and provide us with all the energy and determination to stand together to confront the painful burns that have scarred the face of Beirut."
Several agencies, including Amnesty International, have called for an independent investigation into the circumstances leading up to the explosion. Aoun, meanwhile, has also promised an investigation, vowing that those responsible would be held accountable and face "severe punishment." An unspecified number of port officials have since been ordered to be placed under house arrest pending the investigation.