Two enormous explosions rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut’s port on Tuesday, August 4, killing dozens and wounding thousands of people. Video footage of the second blast showed an enormous orange fireball, followed by a mushroom cloud that sent a shockwave through the city.
According to Agence France-Presse, a resident who witnessed the second explosion from her balcony in the city’s Mansourieh district said, “We heard an explosion, then we saw the mushroom. The force of the blast threw us backwards into the apartment.”
The blasts have caused enormous damage to the city. Property and cars have sustained heavy damage. Several people have been killed. More still have been wounded. According to the BBC, hospitals in the city are said to be overwhelmed by casualties. Hamad Hasan, the Lebanese health minister, announced on Lebanese television that more than 25 were killed and more than 2,500 were injured in the explosion.
Though it is not yet clear what caused the explosion in the city’s port region, Lebanon’s internal security chief reportedly said the blast happened in an area housing highly explosive materials. Lebanon’s National News Agency, per the BBC, reported a fire breaking out at what it called an explosives depot at the port before the explosion.
Israeli officials have denied involvement in the Beirut port explosion. “Israel has nothing to do with the incident,” an official said on condition of anonymity, according to Reuters. But tensions have been high this week following a cross-border confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah.
The explosions’ timing is seen as suspect as they also come while Lebanon awaits the verdict on Friday, August 7, on the 2005 murder of former Lebanese premier Rafic Hariri, killed in a huge truck bomb attack. Four alleged members of the Shi’ite Muslim movement Hezbollah are on trial in absentia at a court in the Netherlands over the huge Beirut bombing that killed Sunni billionaire Hariri and 21 other people.
Amid the chaos, the Lebanese-American former pornographic actor Mia Khalifa took to social media to call out Hezbollah, the Shia Islamist political party and militant group based in Lebanon. Khalifa, sharing a video of the explosion, wrote on Instagram, on August 4, “Not Hezbollah lying to the Lebanese people about hiding explosives on our soil, saying this blast was caused by FIREWORKS. Fireworks?!”
“Let me say this once and say it clearly: You are a disgrace and the Lebanese people deserve better,” she wrote. “You will never meet Allah because the eyes of god will see who you truly are, and no amount of sex a woman can have will ever out-haram the inhumanity, suffering, and crimes you inflict on the Lebanese people.”
She also shared a link on her Instagram for people to donate to help the people of Lebanon. On her Instagram stories, while asking people to donate to the cause, she wrote, “F*** the police and f*** Hezbollah. Give Lebanon back to the people.”
Hezbollah (Party of God) was founded in 1982 by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and it is the most powerful group in Lebanon. It is widely believed that the group grew stronger after joining the war in Syria in 2012 in support of President Bashar al-Assad.
Both a political movement and guerrilla army, Hezbollah draws its support from Lebanon’s Shi’ite population. The group and its allies helped form Lebanon’s current government. Hezbollah, per Reuters, has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., Canada, Germany, Britain, Argentina, and Honduras as well as the U.S.-allied, mainly Sunni Muslim Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Kuwait. The European Union classifies Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist group, but not its political wing.