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Mammoth explosions rock Beirut, killing at least 60 and injuring thousands

In Lebanon, a monstrous explosion shook Beirut, shattering much of the city’s port area. Video showed an enormous blast and shockwave that damaged buildings miles away. The health minister reported at least 70 people dead and more than 3,000 injured, while other officials said that 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate had detonated. Special correspondent Rebecca Collard joins Judy Woodruff from Beirut.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: A monstrous explosion shook Beirut, Lebanon, and shattered much of the city's port.

    The health minister reported that at least 70 dead and more than 3, 000 injured. Video showed an enormous blast and shockwave that damaged buildings miles away. Officials said that 2, 700 tons of ammonium nitrate blew up.

    Special correspondent Rebecca Collard is in Beirut. She spoke with us a short while ago.

    Rebecca, thank you so much for talking with us.

    So, what exactly is known about what happened?

  • Rebecca Collard:

    Well, actually, Judy, a lot is still not known about what happened today.

    The initial report said that this was some sort of a fireworks cache that was being held in a port that caught fire. But I can tell you, where I am now — and I'm very close to my apartment — we're miles from the blast site, and even here, you can see we have almost no electricity.

    Many of the buildings here that are even more than a dozen stories high have the top windows blown out. The walls are off of things. There is glass all over the street.

    So, the most recent thing that we have heard now is that there was some sort of chemical being that was held in that facility. And that chemical caught fire. And because of that, we saw this massive explosion, and we're really talking, if you look at these photos, this video of the explosion, a massive explosion, then, afterwards, this huge plume of smoke coming from this area in Beirut's port.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And as you describe, massive aftereffect, loss of life, so many injuries, we're hearing.

  • Rebecca Collard:

    Yes.

    The toll now, the official toll from the Lebanese government, the latest we're hearing is over 60 and over 3, 000 people injured. But I can tell you, even where I am now, to this point, hours and hours after this blast took place, I'm still hearing ambulances ferrying people to hospitals.

    We have heard that a lot of the hospitals here in Beirut are basically overwhelmed with the numbers of injuries that are coming in. And, unfortunately, Judy, I think that, over tonight and into tomorrow, we're only going to see the number of dead and the number of injured rise really significantly.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Such a terrible incident.

    Rebecca Collard reporting for us from Beirut, thank you so much.

  • Rebecca Collard:

    You're welcome.

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