Trump Reacts To Beirut Explosion; Lebanese PM Points To Ammonium Nitrate As Source

President Donald Trump extended prayers to victims of the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday afternoon, describing the scene as looking like “a terrible attack.”

 Trump told reporters during a press conference Tuesday that it “seemed like” an attack “based on the explosion.” The president later clarified that he met with generals who “seem to think it was” an attack, and that “they would know better than I would.”

Hassan Diab, the prime minister of Lebanon, said that the explosion occurred in a place roughly 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate had been confiscated six years ago, reports NBC News.

“I will not rest until we find the person responsible for what happened, to hold him accountable and impose the most severe penalties,” said Prime Minister Hassan Diab, reports the news agency.

Abbas Ibrahim, chief of Lebanese General Security, also suggested that the explosion could have been caused by confiscated materials in the area, reports USA Today

A senior U.S. official has also told The Times that “[e]verything I’m seeing thus far points to a tragic accident.”

According to The New York Times, the situation in Lebanon’s capital city was actually two explosions, the first of which could have been from a fireworks warehouse, and a much larger second explosion that followed. 

At least 70 people have died and more than 3,000 have been wounded, according to the country’s health ministry, reports the Times. The country of Lebanon has at least 5 million people. 

Across social media, videos and photos purportedly of the explosion and the aftermath have revealed the city covered in ash and glass after the second, much larger, explosion erupted in the shape of a mushroom cloud and left an orange-tinged plume of smoke. 

Some of the videos are graphic, although its not clear where they were filmed in proximity to the blast. 

“Some buildings as far as 2km are partially collapsed,” Fady Roumieh, a local resident, told Sky News. “It’s like a war zone. The damage is extreme. Not one glass window intact.”

“The sounds of sirens of the fire brigade, ambulances, the police and also the military has been pretty incessant for the last 45 minutes and a huge number of emergency services and security forces are rushing to that area now,” said Zein Ja’far, an editor for Sky News who was downtown at the time of the explosion.

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