İrem UZUN -TDO- A huge explosion rocked Beirut on Tuesday, shattering windows and damaging buildings across a wide swath of the city and killing at least 70 people, health ministry said. Images of the explosion and its aftermath showed shattered windows and other destruction, kilometers away from the port area. Hospitals are said to be overwhelmed and many buildings have been destroyed in the city. Minister of Health Hamad Hassan at least 2,700 people were hurt - the latest update in a steadily rising death toll as damage and fatality reports came in from around the city. The grim tally could rise further as officials account for people who have been reported missing, and as crews gain access to collapsed buildings. There was no immediate word on the cause of the blast, but some local media reported it occurred in an area of the port where firecrackers were warehoused.
At least 10 firefighters are missing, according to the city's governor Marwan Abboud, who said the scene reminded him of "Hiroshima and Nagasaki". "In my life I haven't seen destruction on this scale," Abboud said. "This is a national catastrophe." Yet, a Lebanese Red Cross official said more deaths were expected when rescue teams combed through damaged buildings. According to the CNN, the explosion was felt as far as Cyprus, and caused a 3.3 magnitude earthquake in the Lebanese capital.
International leaders reacted to the explosion immediately. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that "The pictures and videos from Beirut tonight are shocking. All of my thoughts and prayers are with those caught up in this terrible incident. "The UK is ready to provide support in any way we can, including to those British nationals affected." U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also offered assistance, saying "We are monitoring and stand ready to assist the people of Lebanon as they recover from this horrible tragedy". France, Germany, Iran and Israel also said they were ready to provide medical and humanitarian assistance to the city.