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Massive blast rips through Beirut port in Lebanon

At least 70 people are reported dead and 4,000 injured in a massive blast at Beirut port. A fire was seen billowing smoke from a building in the port area followed by a huge blast with a mushroom cloud rising into the air. The blast was heard in Cyprus some 240 km from the Lebanese capital. Videos show widespread devastation in the port area with fires burning in the rubble of destroyed buildings. Vessel tracking services show 10 vessels in the port area in near the approximate location where the blast took place, including the 11,356 teu containership CMA CGM Lyra. Three more vessels are shown in the vicinity. According to Dryad Global the general cargo vessel Raouf H was the closest commercial vessel to the explosion with the Sierra Leone flagged general cargo vessel Metro Star located behind. It also reported that three local tugs are believed to have been in close proximity to the explosion. The condition of vessels in the vicninty following the blast is unknown at present. CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd and Maersk all have offices close to the port area and Seatrade Maritime News has reached out to these companies. The explosion is being blamed on 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate which had been stored in a warehouse in the port for the past six years. The BBC quoted Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab "dangerous warehouse" which had been there since 2014, but said he would not pre-empt the investigation. Lebanese President Michel Aoun has declared a three-day period of warning.

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