Lebanon’s prime minister also called for international help: “I make an urgent appeal to friendly and brotherly countries… to stand by Lebanon and to help us heal our deep wounds,” Hassan Diab said.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “The pictures and videos from Beirut tonight are shocking. All of my thoughts and prayers are with those caught up in this terrible incident.
“The UK is ready to provide support in any way we can, including to those British nationals affected.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also offered assistance, tweeting: “We are monitoring and stand ready to assist the people of Lebanon as they recover from this horrible tragedy.”
France said it was sending aid and resources to Lebanon.
Iran would “render assistance in any way necessary” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted, while Saudi Arabia expressed its full solidarity with Lebanon.
Israel said in a statement that it had “approached Lebanon through international security and diplomatic channels and has offered the Lebanese government medical and humanitarian assistance”.
The German foreign ministry said the blast had been felt at its embassy in the city.
“We cannot for the moment exclude German nationals figuring among the dead and wounded,” it said in a statement.
What’s the situation in Lebanon?
Lebanon is experiencing political turmoil, with street demonstrations against the government’s handling of the worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Many blame the ruling elite who have dominated politics for years and amassed their own wealth while failing to carry out the sweeping reforms necessary to solve the country’s problems. People have to deal with daily power cuts, a lack of safe drinking water and limited public healthcare.
There has also been tension on the border with Israel, which said last week that it had thwarted an attempt by Hezbollah to infiltrate Israeli territory. But a senior Israeli official has told the BBC that “Israel has no connection” to the Beirut blast.
The blast happened close to the scene of the huge car bombing which killed ex-PM Hariri. Tuesday’s blast also came days before the long-awaited verdict in the trial at a special court in the Netherlands of four men accused of orchestrating the attack.