‘Terrifying situation’ as embassy staff injured in blast

 

Staff working at the Australian Embassy in Lebanon are among those injured after a deadly "nuclear-scale" blast tore through Beirut.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed "several" staff working at the diplomatic hub were injured by shattered glass after a massive explosion sent a mushroom cloud through the city.

They are among thousands injured.

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the staff suffered "some cuts and scratches" but all staff had been accounted for.

He said they will be sleeping at the Embassy to make sure they could provide assistance to Australians who may need help.

Ms Payne told 2GB the shockwaves from the blast were felt at the Embassy, which is located in Downtown Beirut.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne... ‘A number of staff have received glass injuries’
Foreign Minister Marise Payne... ‘A number of staff have received glass injuries’

"About 95 per cent of our windows were blown out by the impact. A number of staff have received glass injuries, they're being supported and looked after," she said.

"Thankfully none of those injuries is serious but it's a shocking and terrifying situation to be dealing with."

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said the Australian Embassy building suffered "significant damage" in the explosion.

Staff at the Embassy are making urgent enquiries to establish the extent of the impact on Australians.

The explosion sent shockwaves through the city, shattering glass, collapsing buildings and toppling cars.

The cause of the explosion is not yet known but early reports suggest it may have been caused by ammonium nitrate, a flammable substance commonly used in fertiliser.

The city has been declared a "disaster zone" as authorities comb through the area for fatalities and injured.

The death toll currently stands at more than 70, including one Australian.

Australian Ambassador to Lebanon Rebekah Grindlay sent a heartfelt message to the community on Wednesday morning.

Ambassador Grindlay posted a picture of Beirut in the aftermath of the explosion. Picture: Australian Embassy Lebanon
Ambassador Grindlay posted a picture of Beirut in the aftermath of the explosion. Picture: Australian Embassy Lebanon

 

John Symond: ‘The poor people of Lebanon have been cursed’.
John Symond: ‘The poor people of Lebanon have been cursed’.

 

 

"The darkest of clouds over Beirut tonight. My heart goes out to the families of the deceased. I pray for quick recoveries for those injured," she said.

Finance guru John Symond this morning said his thoughts were with the people of Beirut in the wake of the tragedy.

"The poor people of Lebanon have been cursed for 100 years, it's just terrible."

Australians who need consular assistance after the Beirut explosion can call (+61) 2 6261 3305 (outside Australia) or 1300 555 135 (inside Australia).

 

 

Originally published as 'Terrifying situation' as embassy staff injured in deadly blast