Huge explosion causes devastation in Beirut

Two huge explosions have ripped through Lebanon's capital, Beirut, killing at least 78 people, injuring more than 4000 people, and sending an enormous blast wave across the city.

Lebanese prime minister, Hassan Diab,has said that ammonium nitrate was stored in the port, which is what caused the explosion. He said the chemical had been left unsecured for six years in a warehouse, and vowed to punish those responsible.

Hundreds of homes were destroyed and the blast was so strong, it was reportedly felt in Cyprus, an island around 240km (150 miles) away.

On Tuesday night Lebanon’s Supreme Defence Council recommended declaring Beirut a disaster-stricken city, declaring a two-week state of emergency in the capital and handing over security responsibility to military authorities.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the UK is ready to provide any support it can to help Beirut.

France is in the process of sending aid to Lebanon, President Emmanuel Macron has said.

"France is side by side with Lebanon. Always," Macron tweeted. "French aid and resources are currently on their way."

Macron's office said he has also called Aoun to express France's support for the Lebanese people.

Qatar has promised to send field hospitals to support the medical response.

Initial reports suggested that a fireworks warehouse was involved. The Lebanese security chief, Abbas Ibrahim, later blamed combustible chemicals stored in a warehouse.

The Beirut port is known to be used by the militant group cum political bloc Hezbollah, which denied any of its facilities had been hit.

A doctor at St George’s hospital, less than 2km (1.2 miles) from the blast, said injured people were being brought for treatment but the hospital had been destroyed.

The destruction comes as Lebanon grapples with an economic crisis that has slashed incomes and jobs and led to soaring nationwide poverty, and also amid rising tensions between Israel and Hezbollah along Lebanon’s southern border.