Beirut explosion: Death toll rises to 200 as protests continue
One of the top stories this week, unfortunately, was the massive explosion in Beirut. There was arrested Look for more survivors. As thousands were injured and the explosion there looked to be the result of negligence. There was huge amounts of ammonium nitrate that exploded, they were improperly stored in a warehouse for over six years. Half of the city's destroyed and thousands have been left homeless for more on what we know about this. We spoke to miss you. Ryan, National Security reporter at the Washington Post, You know well, it was really just a catastrophic scene in downtown Beirut. And he said there was a series of explosions. First, this initial fire, smaller fire or explosion. They're different accounts. And then this. Masses mushroom cloud blasts followed by the blast wave course he not across the city, and one would assume that some people were killed in the explosion close to the port. And then there were lots of people wounded and probably dead in the blast wave that broke windows, destroyed buildings and affected people, Miles and miles away. And so people who are on the ground there, and they were just sort of describing this apocalyptic scene where hospitals were overwhelmed. There was nitrous oxide fumes that were potentially dangerous, and this is happening in the country that is already really struggling with Cupid. Pandemic, of course, but then a series of political and economic crises that have triggered inflation and widespread protests over the last year, so this is coming at a very, very hard time for Lebanon. Obviously a lot of people. I know by now, I've seen the video of the explosion. There's so many different angles, so many different videos. There's videos of people experiencing their normal life. And then the blast comes. I saw A video of a family just looking out their window at the fire, and then the windows just completely exploding on them. As the big blast came. Another video I saw was a woman taking bridal pictures and then the huge blast comes and knocks her down and the crew down and everything so just kind of the devastation that that's there and was caught on video is pretty crazy, but I wanted to ask about the ammonium nitrate and why it was there in the first place, and why it was there for so long. Basically, obviously one of the first questions after this happened, Wass what caused this explosion. Initially people were trying to figure out was this some sort of military attack or terrorist attack, But Lebanese officials have said that they believe that it was The result of this improperly stored ammonium nitrate, which we're told was there as a result of basically a stranded shipment that was headed for somewhere else in 2013 or 2014 and was brought And because of a legal dispute in a sort of custody dispute was brought into the port facility in Beirut. And then nobody has really clarify. Why remain there for so long? And I think that that the anger of the Lebanese people ask you why there would have been this highly flammable explosive material stored in the middle of a pact teeming city that's going to be prompting, you know a huge amount of political pressure there already. We've reported that there are some port employees have been placed under house arrest. There are calls or government officials or port officials to be held personally accountable, But I think we're just the beginning of that whole process. And I should add that the U. S government officials that we're talking Tio don't have that much independent information at this point, But what they're saying is They don't have any reason to think so far, and this is evolving that it was anything other than but negligence or an accident. Yeah, it just seems like if this was purely negligence, it's almost worse that if it was a nefarious attack, this is something that could have been totally avoided. You did mention a few of the other things that were going on in Beirut and Lebanon specifically with regards to Corona virus, because the pandemic is obviously affecting the world right now. I know the hospitals are already kind of overtaxed and this is just going to make it worse considering so many people were injured there. I think, they said over 135 dead now and over 4000 people injured and those numbers they're going to change. One would have seemed so. I mean, one of the things that was happening today, with people digging through rubble. Many buildings further away from the port, sort of as he went out, had windows or doors blown out, but structurally or intact, but that no one's closest to the port. Some of them are destroyed. And so people were pulling people out of the rebel today, So you would assume that that death toll would potentially rise and then we have reports of at least 4000 people who were injured. So it was really scary event for a lot of people and then the rebuilding process. Now I've been seeing just people throw numbers around. You never know what the true cost would be. Repairs could cost $5 billion. I mean in the initial area, there was just totally devastated. There's a huge hole the warehouse was One of other countries been doing to offer help. The French president is supposed to visit Lebanon tomorrow. Some of the European countries already sending or talking about sending assistance. I saw reports of Russia operate assistance. The U. S government has so far not said whether or not It'll send eight or potentially logisticians or any sort of personnel to assist. But that's also a possibility. And I would assume that something like that would, of course from the United States as well. One of the other things Teo think about is the fact that there were these massive grain Silas basically right next to the areas, the site of the explosion in the port area that had And them so those were not destroyed or significantly damaged. And so that could really hasten concerns about food security in Lebanon, which it is sort of crazy to think about Lebanon. Being a food, insecure country was always thought as one of the most well to do in the past countries. In the Middle East. It did go through a big punishing civil war in the 19 eighties, but it's really sad to think about Lebanon being in this place. Missy Ryan, National Security reporter at the Washington Post. Thank you very much for joining us. Thank you.