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A massive explosion in the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Tuesday afternoon caused “a very high number of injuries”, the country’s health minister said.

The cause of the blast is unclear, but video footage showed a fire and vast columns of smoke emanating from Beirut’s port. There are industrial and military facilities in the area. Pink smoke could be seen across the city.

Health minister Hamad Hassan’s remarks were reported by local news station LBC. The Lebanese Red Cross emergency service said that 30 teams were responding to the incident.

The force of the explosion smashed windows and caved in doors within a several mile radius. The huge noise of the blast was heard in the mountains and in coastal cities at least 40km away.

The explosion comes in the same week that a jury will deliver a verdict on the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, who was killed in a massive car bomb in 2005 that also shook the city.

Lebanon has been crippled by an economic crisis, while its hospitals are trying to cope with rising number of coronavirus cases.

The Beirut blast and its effects were felt all over the city © Anwar Amro/AFP /Getty

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