Lebanon's President calls for two-week state of emergency

STR / AFP

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said a two-week state of emergency should be declared in the capital after a massive explosion left at least 100 people dead and more than 4,000 wounded.

Tuesday's blast at port warehouses storing highly explosive material was the most powerful in years in Beirut, already reeling from an economic crisis and a surge in coronavirus infections.

Aoun said that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilisers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures, and described it as "unacceptable".

He called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, rescue workers dug through the rubble looking for survivors.

"What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe," the head of Lebanon's Red Cross George Kettani told broadcaster Mayadeen. "There are victims and casualties everywhere."

Officials did not say what caused the blaze that set off the blast. 

Prime Minister Hassan Diab promised there would be accountability for the deadly blast at the "dangerous warehouse", adding "those responsible will pay the price."

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