Video shows huge explosion rocking central Beirut

A massive explosion ripped through central Beirut, injuring thousands of people and blowing out windows in buildings across the city.
The blast near the port in the Lebanese capital sent up a huge mushroom cloud-shaped shockwave, flipping cars and damaging distant buildings. It was felt as far as Cyprus, hundreds of miles away.
At least 25 people were killed in the blast and over 2,500 people have been wounded, Health Minister Hamad Hassan told reporters.
Footage from the scene captured the injured staggering through streets in the capital; and ambulances, cars and military vehicles packed with the wounded. One eyewitness described the scenes as “like an apocalypse.”
There were conflicting reports on what caused the explosion, which was initially blamed on a major fire at a warehouse for firecrackers near the port, according to NNA. The director of the general security directorate later said the blast was caused by confiscated “high explosive materials,” but did not provide further details.
A red cloud hung over the city in the wake of the explosion as firefighting teams rushed to the scene to try to put out the fire. At least 10 firefighters were missing, according to the city’s governor Marwan Abboud, who said the scene reminded him of “Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
“In my life I haven’t seen destruction on this scale,” Abboud said. “This is a national catastrophe.”
The blast comes at a tense time in Lebanon. On Friday a UN-backed panel is expected to issue a verdict on the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, a move many fear will stoke sectarian tensions. The country is also in the midst of an economic meltdown, with ballooning unemployment, a tanking currency and poverty rates soaring above 50%.
CNN’s Ben Wedeman reports.
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In This Story: Cyprus

Cyprus, officially called the Republic of Cyprus, is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Republic of Cyprus is de facto partitioned into two main parts: the area under the effective control of the Republic, located in the south and west and comprising about 59% of the island’s area, and the north, administered by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, covering about 36% of the island’s area. Another nearly 4% of the island’s area is covered by a UN buffer zone.

The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, remain under the UK’s control according to the London and Zürich Agreements.

The Republic of Cyprus has been a member of the Commonwealth since 1961 and joined the European Union on 1 May 2004.

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    Lebanon, officially known as the Lebanese Republic, is a country in the Levant region of Western Asia, and the transcontinental region of the Middle East.

    The official language, Arabic, is the most common language spoken by the citizens of Lebanon. Its capital is Beirut.

    Lebanon was a founding member of the United Nations in 1945 and is a member of the Arab League (1945), the Non-Aligned Movement (1961), Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (1969), and the Organisation internationale de la francophonie (1973).

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