By Ahmad Adil
NEW DELHI, India (AA) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Wednesday he is shocked and saddened by yesterday’s massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon that killed more than 70 people and injured thousands of others.
“Shocked and saddened by the large explosion in Beirut city leading to loss of life and property. Our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families and the injured,” he said on the Office of the Prime Minister of India’s Twitter account.
After the blast was reported Tuesday, the Indian Embassy in Beirut asked Indian community members to stay calm.
“2 big explosions heard in Central Beirut this evening. Everyone is advised to stay calm. Any Indian community member in need of any help may contact our Help Line,” the official Twitter account of the Embassy of India, Beirut tweeted.
The death toll from the massive explosion has risen to 73, Lebanon’s Health Ministry said early Wednesday.
A fire at a warehouse containing explosives at the Port of Beirut led to the blast, which leveled a three-story building and was heard across the city and its suburbs.
More than 3,000 people have been wounded, the ministry added.
Many neighboring and regional countries including Turkey, Qatar and Libya offered help to Lebanon on Tuesday following the incident.
In a post on the Lebanese Presidency's Twitter account, President Michel Aoun cited ammonium nitrate as the source of the massive explosion, saying that keeping 2,750 tons of the chemical compound at a warehouse without any security measures is unacceptable. He stressed that those who are responsible will be punished in the strongest terms.
In the meantime, Lebanese authorities declared Beirut a "disaster area" due to the incident.
Lebanon's Supreme Defense Council has declared a state of emergency for two weeks in Beirut.
Along with the state of emergency, allocating funds to hospitals to cover the expenses of the injured, paying compensation to the families of those who lost their lives and supplying wheat following damage to wheat silos in the blast were among the decisions taken by the council.
An investigative committee has also been established which will prepare a report on the blast within five days.