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What happened?

The explosion occurred just after 18:00 (15:00 GMT) on Tuesday after a fire at the port.

Eyewitness Hadi Nasrallah says that he saw the fire but did not expect the blast. “I lost my hearing for a few seconds, I knew something was wrong, and then suddenly the glass just shattered all over the car, the cars around us, the shops, the stores, the buildings. Just glass going down from all over the building,” he told the BBC.
BBC Arabic reporter Maryem Taoumi was conducting a video interview in Beirut at the time of the explosion.

The BBC’s Lina Sinjab said she could feel the wave of the explosion from her home, a five-minute drive from the port area. “My building was shaking, it was about to fall, all windows were forced open,” she said.

The blast was also felt 240km (150 miles) away on the island of Cyprus, in the eastern Mediterranean, with people there saying they thought it was an earthquake.

BBC journalist Rami Ruhayem said there was chaos in the aftermath of the blast as ambulances with their sirens wailing inched their way through heavy traffic to get to the site.

There were shards of glass on the highway, that needed to be cleared by tractors, he added.

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