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70 killed in Beirut explosion

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[A photo taken during Beirut explosion. Photo/courtesy].

At least 70 people have been killed and 4,000 others injured in capital city of Lebanon, Beirut explosion, Health minister has said.

Videos of cloud of smoke surfaced followed by big blast at the city’s port.

Officials have blamed highly explosive materials stored in a warehouse for over 6 years.

President Michel Aoun tweeted it was “unacceptable” that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was unsafely stored.

Authorities have launched Investigations over what triggered the explosion with Lebanon’s Supreme Defence Council saying those responsible would face the “maximum punishment” possible.

Overwhelmed

Hospitals are said to be overwhelmed and many buildings have been destroyed.

President Aoun declared a three-day mourning period, and said the government would release emergency funds.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab called it a catastrophe and said those responsible must be held to account.

He spoke of a “dangerous warehouse” which had been there since 2014, but said he would not pre-empt the investigation.

Tension

The blast was heard 240km (150 miles) away on the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean.

The explosion comes at a sensitive time for Lebanon, with an economic crisis reigniting old divisions.

Tension is also high ahead of Friday’s verdict in a trial over the killing of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.