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Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images

The death toll from Tuesday's explosion in Beirut, Lebanon has now surpassed 130, including at least one U.S. citizen, amid a search for answers as to why a huge store of ammonium nitrate was left unsecured near the city's port for nearly seven years.

What we know: The government says around 5,000 people are injured. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said current indications are that the massive explosion was accidental, despite President Trump's puzzling claim on Tuesday evening that it appeared to be a bomb attack.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the explosions occurred at a warehouse that had been storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate for over six years.
  • It's unclear what caused the explosion, or why the materials were apparently left unsecured for so long.
  • Economy Minister Raoul Nehme blamed "incompetence and really bad management." Diab vowed that those responsible would be punished.
  • Beirut's governor, Marwan Abboud, says half the city is seriously damaged and 250,000-300,000 people have been left homeless.

Breaking it down: The ammonium nitrate, a material used in explosives as well as fertilizer, appears to have been impounded from a Russian-owned, Moldovan-flagged ship sailing from Georgia to Mozambique in September, 2013. per al-Jazeera.

  • The ship docked in Beirut after experiencing technical problems, per the report.
  • Customs officials repeatedly sought to have the material removed — by exporting it, by selling it, or by giving it to the Lebanese Army. Ultimately, it remained in the port hangar.
  • Several port officials are currently under house arrest.

Details: Eyewitness videos show smoke billowing from an initial explosion, followed by a second, far more powerful explosion.

  • The U.S. Embassy in Beirut has warned all who can to remain indoors and wear masks due to "reports of toxic gases released in the explosion." However, many now lack windows.

The big picture: The human suffering is immense in a country already struggling with a crippling financial crisis and the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as a massive refugee population.

  • Windows were blown from buildings across entire city blocks, some several miles away. Severely damaged hospitals have been treating patients with limited supplies, in some cases by flashlight.
  • Much of the city now appears uninhabitable. Beirut's mayor compared the damage to Hiroshima.
  • Downtown Beirut is quite compact, with roughly 360,000 people living in the city and over 2 million in the larger metro area.
  • Most of Lebanon's grain supply and other crucial exports flowed through the now-destroyed port.
  • Several countries have offered humanitarian aid, but there are serious doubts in Lebanon that it will match the level of need in a country with an insufficient food supply, collapsing economy, destroyed port and rubble-filled capital city.

On the scene: "Survivors walked by, moving faster than the jammed-up traffic. To anyone who appeared unhurt, people called out, ‘alhamdulillah al-salama,’ or, roughly translated, thank God for your safety," writes the NYT's Vivian Yee, who was injured in the blast.

In photos
A woman amid rubble in the Gemmayzeh area in the centre of Lebanon's capital Beirut on Tuesday night. Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images
Damaged buildings are seen after a fire at a warehouse with explosives at the Port of Beirut led to massive blasts in Beirut. Photo: Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Photo: Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Photo: Joseph Eid/AFP via Getty Images
A helicopter puts out a fire at the scene of an explosion at the port. Photo: Str/AFP via Getty Images
Two huge explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut, wounding dozens of people, shaking buildings and sending huge plumes of smoke billowing into the sky. Photo: Str/AFP via Getty Images

Go deeper

In photos: Americans pay tribute on Veterans Day

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Veterans and their families, active members of the military, President-elect Joe Biden and President Trump gathered throughout the day Wednesday to pay tribute to those who served the U.S. in the armed forces.

Details: Set against the backdrop of the raging coronavirus pandemic, Biden and his wife, Jill, visited the Korean War Memorial in Philadelphia Wednesday morning around the same time that Trump and his family visited the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations were "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.

Updated 6 hours ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand, which were later lifted.