Lebanon president says ammonium nitrate caused blast

<p>Lebanese President Michel Aoun <em>(Lebanese Presidency / Handout - Anadolu Agency)</em></p>

Lebanese President Michel Aoun (Lebanese Presidency / Handout - Anadolu Agency)

ISTANBUL/BEIRUT, Lebanon – Lebanese President Michel Aoun cited ammonium nitrate as the source of a massive explosion Tuesday at the Port of Beirut which killed more than 60 people and injured close to 3,000.

In a post on the Lebanese Presidency's Twitter account, Aoun said that keeping 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate 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 the capital 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.

A fire at a warehouse containing explosives at the Port of Beirut led to the massive blast, which leveled a three-story building and was heard across the city and its suburbs.

At least 63 people died and more than 2,750 have been wounded in the blast, Lebanese Heath Minister Hamad Hassan said late Tuesday.

Neighboring and regional countries including Turkey extended their condolences and offered help to Lebanon following the explosion.

US President Donald Trump claimed that the blast "looks like a terrible attack," suggesting it was a bombing rather than an accident. (Anadolu)