An explosion of seismic proportions rocked Lebanon's capital, Beirut, on Tuesday, leaving the city's port virtually in a destroyed state, damaging buildings, with a giant mushroom cloud suspended over the sky. Nearly 78 people are reported to have been killed by the blast, which has also left more than 4,000 wounded, with bodies buried in the rubble, officials said in a statement. 

Speaking to the local media, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the blasts were caused as a result of an estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate left "without preventive measures" for around six years inside a warehouse. He has stated that those responsible will be punished. 

The blast measured the force of a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, as per Germany's geosciences center GFZ, and is reported to have been heard and felt at a distance of more than 200 kilometres across the Mediterranean, as far away as Cyprus. Ambulances carried the dead and the wounded for hours afterward to hospitals, which began filling beyond capacity, with the shortage for blood supplies being reported and generators powered on to turn on the lights. 

Residents covered in their own blood were noticed around the streets in blocks around the ports, which were lined with cars that were overturned and rubble littered everywhere from shattered buildings. Windows and doors from the buildings were blown out for miles away with army helicopters rushing in to douse the fires that were raging at the city's port. 

After the explosion, witnesses reported seeing an orange-colored cloud hovering over the city, which resembles toxic nitrogen dioxide gas released upon an explosion that involves nitrates. Health Minister Hassan Hamad said Arab States and friends of Lebanon offered aid for support to those injured. Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud was seen to be shedding tears as he inspected the blast site and went on to exclaim saying it is a devastated city now. 

Boaz Hayoun, an Israeli bomb expert, stated that fireworks could have been a reason for the blast to get triggered. He pointed out that prior to the big explosion there were sparks witnessed, which were heard like popcorn crackling along with the sound of whistles. There was massive chaos and confusion across the city with people clearing out of their homes and trying to locate family members. Some others on motorcycles carried the injured making their way through traffic. 

The blast has come at an unfortunate time when Lebanon is facing a crisis in the form of the spread of the coronavirus infections and restrictions imposed by the pandemic, which as well has constituted the nation's economic collapse. A number of hospitals in the city were left damaged by the impact of the explosion with patients being evacuated in some of them. Many arrived at the medical facilities across the city in ambulances, cars and even on foot. Several people were being treated on the streets outside the hospitals, on stretchers and wheelchairs. In a statement, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, UNIFIL, said one of its ships anchored at the port sustained heavy damages and left a number of its peacekeepers severely injured.