• A massive explosion struck port of Beirut on Tuesday, August 4.
• Casualty reports currently indicate at least 135 dead, more than 5,000 injured and hundreds still missing.
Search-and-rescue operations are continuing.
• The damage, estimated at between $3 billion and $5 billion, is spread across half the city and has left about 300,000 people homeless.
• The prime minister stated that the explosion was caused by the unsafe storage of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate.
Yesterday, a massive explosion—measuring 3.3 magnitude on the Richter scale and felt as far away as Cyprus—struck the port of Beirut1. While search and rescue operations continue throughout the city, there are currently at least 135 dead and more than 5,000 wounded.
According to the governor of Beirut, the blast damaged half of the city, leaving about 300,000 homeless and causing $3 billion to $5 billion worth of damages. Lebanon’s prime minister, Hassan Diab, blamed the explosion on the ignition of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, which had been stored in an unsecured fashion in a warehouse for six years4.
The pairing of damage done to the healthcare system, along with the massive influx of patients, is of great concern in Beirut. Some city hospitals were damaged so severely by the explosion that they can't treat blast victims. According to a New York Times article, at least four hospitals were too damaged to admit patients. All other hospitals are overwhelmed.
Healthcare workers were reportedly among the killed, and nurses and doctors are in high demand. There also are worries about acute shortages of medicines, medical supplies and equipment, because facilities that stored them were heavily damaged in the blast.
International Medical Corps in Lebanon International Medical Corps has approximately 250 staff in the country—with more than 100 in Beirut—and partnerships with 50 primary healthcare centers (PHCCs). Currently, we support access to primary healthcare services for Syrian refugees at 50 facilities across the country (in Bekaa, Beirut and Mount Lebanon, Akkar, and other areas in the north and south), including 34 PHCCs, seven health dispensaries, three community centers, one social development center and five safe spaces.
International Medical Corps has operated in Lebanon since 2006. In 2011, we were the first health organization to begin providing services for Syrian refugees in north Lebanon, following the influx of Syrian refugees into the country. Today, International Medical Corps provides health, community health, mental health and gender-based violence services to displaced Syrians and vulnerable Lebanese and other nationalities. Recently, our Lebanon team began providing services for people with disabilities and has recently completed structural alterations to several primary healthcare facilities to make them more accessible.