Rescue workers carry an injured victim. Hasan Shaaban/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The enormous explosion which has killed at least 75 and injured nearly 3,000 in Beirut is another terrible blow to a country already at the point of collapse.
The first blast was reported in a fireworks factory in the port area, which appears to have triggered a much bigger explosion which was heard in southern Lebanon close to the Israeli border, and in Cyprus to the west. A warehouse containing old ordnance seized years ago had erupted. According to another report, a store of ammonium nitrate had been set off. Ammonium nitrate is used as agricultural fertilizer, but it is often use as the main charge in car bombs.
At first, many in Beirut suspected a car bomb – there have been more than a dozen assassinations by car bomb in the recent past. In truth, it has been a prime tool for political murder almost since Lebanon became independent in 1943.