Massive Beirut Explosion Sinks Nearby Cruise Ship
Middle EastJack Phillips

A cruise ship that was docked in Beirut was capsized by the large explosion that rocked the city on Tuesday, according to officials and video footage.

The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed in a statement that information from the Philippine Embassy in Beirut that two sailors on the ship, the Orient Queen, died in the blast.

“Two Filipinos died from the explosion. Another eight Filipinos suffered from injuries, one of them is in critical but stable condition, while the rest sustained minor injuries,” it said.

The ship’s operator, Abou Merhi Cruises, said in a statement, according to The National publication, that the ship capsized following the blast. Satellite photos published by the outlet showed the ship on its side.

“It’s a sad, sad day for all of us,” the cruise operator said. “Abou Merhi Cruises has lost a precious soul in the tragedy that took place at the port of Beirut. Heilemariam Reta (Hailey) from Ethiopia.”

The statement added: “Our prayers and thoughts are with the family of Mustafa Airout from Syria who was at the port and is still missing.”

NTD Photo
A view of the site of Tuesday’s blast in Beirut’s port area, Lebanon on Aug. 6, 2020. (Issam Abdallah/Reuters)
NTD Photo
A general view of the scene of an explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, on Aug. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
NTD Photo
A drone picture shows the scene of an explosion at the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, on Aug. 5, 2020. (Hussein Malla/AP Photo)
NTD Photo
Smoke rises from the site of an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, on Aug. 4, 2020. (Mohamed Azakir/Reuters)

A spokesperson for the cruise operator confirmed that Airout was “very close to the explosion” when it happened, according to The National.

Officials confirmed that the explosion killed at least 145 people and injured scores more, according to Reuters.

French President Emmanuel Macron called for urgent support for Lebanon, but he stressed that the country needs to deal with corruption problems.

“If these reforms are not made, Lebanon will continue to suffer,” Macron told reporters after a meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun in Beirut.

Earlier this week, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said in a statement Tuesday that the cause of the blast was due to poorly stored ammonium nitrate that was held at a portside location for several years. The source of the explosion isn’t clear.

According to a report from LCBI, the ammonium nitrate was previously stored on a Moldovan-flagged ship called the Rhosus. It said it was owned by a Russian national. A captain of the Rhosus told Radio Free Europe this week that the Russian national is businessman Igor Grechushkin, who left the ship and ammonium nitrate in Beirut several years ago. The ship has since sunk.

Port General Manager Hassan Koraytem told OTV the material had been put in a warehouse on a court order, adding that they knew then the material was dangerous but “not to this degree.”