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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Lebanon, which one of the worst hit Middle East countries from coronavirus, teetering on the brink of economic collapse, has now suffered a huge explosion. It originated at the port of the capital, Beitut. Just take a look at this dramatic video. Local authorities are warning that many are injured and buildings across the city have been damaged. Let’s get straight to it with our Ben Wedeman who is standing by at the bureau, which has also not escaped the aftershocks. Ben?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, that explosion, Christiane, happened just a few minutes after 6:00 p.m. local time, that’s about three hours ago. I was in the CNN bureau here in downtown Beirut. Initially, it felt like an earthquake, but just moments later these windows were completely blown out, the frames blown out, our front door is gone now, and that scene has been duplicated, replicated throughout the city. I have spoken with people all over this town by phone, and they all say the same thing. This is an explosion the size of which many who have been through the civil war, through the 2006 Lebanon-Israel war, never have seen an explosion of this magnitude. The hospitals here in Beirut are overwhelmed with the injured. The Hotel Dieu tells us that they have accepted at least 400 injured, another hospital getting at least 60, and that’s just two hospitals. The Lebanese Red Cross has called for all of its ambulances in the entire country of Lebanon to come to Beirut immediately to help with taking the injured to get treatment. Eyewitnesses are telling me that they saw people being treated on the street, others been given CPR on the sidewalk. There is no part of this city where damage has not occurred. The number of dead is still not clear. This was preceded by some sort of fire in a warehouse in Beirut’s port. The national news agency, the official agency, said that the warehouse was full of fireworks, but Abbas Ibrahim, the head of Lebanese General Security, said it would be naive to think that an explosion of this magnitude was caused by mere fireworks. But at this point, it’s unclear what was the cause of that explosion, but what is as clear as day is that this explosion has wreaked incredible damage throughout this city. The number of casualties and fatalities at this point is unclear, but it is going to be for sure significant in number. Christiane?
About This Episode EXPAND
A special report for Beirut, Lebanon. Then, Christiane speaks with the superintendent of a Mississippi school district, former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and soccer icon Megan Rapinoe. Walter Isaacson speaks with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins.LEARN MORE