At least four Bangladeshi migrant workers were killed in a massive explosion in Beirut that shook the Lebanese capital, killing more than 100 people and injuring nearly 4,000.
Besides, 21 members of the Bangladesh Navy and some expatriates were injured in the powerful warehouse explosion on Tuesday.
The deceased Bangladeshi expatriates are Mehedi Hasan Rony and Rasel Miah of Brahmanbaria, Mizanur Rahman of Madaripur, and Rezaul from Cumilla, report the UNB and BSS, citing Bangladesh Embassy in Beirut.
Mehedi and Mizan had been working as cleaners in the country, as confirmed by the embassy.
According to the Brac Migration programme, the number of wounded Bangladeshis is at least 100 – including the Navy men.
Navy ship BNS Bijoy damaged
During the blast, Bangladesh Navy ship BNS Bijoy was anchored at Beirut port with some 110 officials onboard, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a press release on Wednesday.
Among the 21 wounded Navy men, one is in critical condition and is currently being treated at the American University of Beirut Medical Centre. Others are undergoing treatment at Hadum Hospital.
Immediately after the incident, Major General Md Jahangir Al Mustahidur Rahman, psc, the Bangladesh ambassador in Beirut, visited BNS Bijoy and helped in transferring the injured and making arrangements for their treatment.
"A tense situation has been prevailing in Lebanon. People, including the Bangladeshi community, are in a state of panic. We are trying to overcome the panic by using social media and some other ways," he said in a video message.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Head of Mission, Force Commander and Maritime Task force are closely observing the situation and have assured all kinds of help.
The damage to BNS Bijoy is being estimated.The Bangladesh Navy warship has been participating in the UN peacekeeping mission since 2010. The corvette Bijoy is working in the peacekeeping mission of UNIFIL as a member of the Multinational Maritime Taskforce in the Mediterranean Sea.
The ship has been working efficiently to stop the entry of illegal weapons and explosives into Lebanon.
Families of deceased seek government assistance
Mehedi Hasan Roni was the breadwinner in his family. He was the eldest among four brothers and sisters.
Roni, who went to Lebanon in 2014, worked as a cleaner at a shopping mall in Beirut.
His father Tazul Islam and mother Inora Begum have become shell-shocked after hearing the news of their son's death on Wednesday morning.
Another dead victim, Mizanur Rahman, went to Lebanon two years ago.
His uncle Bazlur Rahman told the Brac Migration Programme, "Mizan was the eldest among three brothers and sisters. All the family members have been shocked."
Meanwhile, both the families sought government assistance to bring the bodies of the two men back to the country.
At present, 1.5 lakh Bangladeshi expatriates are living in Lebanon.
100 dead, nearly 4,000 injured, 3 lakh homeless
Lebanese rescue workers dug through rubble looking for survivors of the powerful warehouse explosion that shook Beirut, killing 100 people and injuring nearly 4,000 in a toll that officials expected to rise, reports Reuters.
Tuesday's blast at port warehouses storing highly explosive material was the most powerful in years in Beirut, already reeling from an economic crisis and a surge in coronavirus infections.
President Michel Aoun said that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilisers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures. He said that was "unacceptable".
He called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Officials did not say what caused the blaze that set off the blast. A security source and the media said it was started by welding work being carried out on a hole in the warehouse.
An official source familiar with preliminary investigations blamed the incident on "inaction and negligence", saying nothing was done by committees and judges to order the removal of hazardous material.
Ordinary Lebanese, who have lost jobs and watched savings evaporate in Lebanon's financial crisis, blamed politicians who have overseen decades of state corruption and bad governance.
"This is a catastrophe for Beirut and Lebanon," Beirut's mayor, Jamal Itani, told Reuters while inspecting damage which he estimated ran into billions of dollars.
"It's like a war zone. I'm speechless," he added.
The head of Lebanon's Red Cross, George Kettani, said at least 100 people had been killed.
"We are still sweeping the area. There could still be victims. I hope not," he said.
Beirut's city governor Marwan Abboud said up to 3 lakh people had lost their homes and the authorities were working on providing them with food, water and shelter, reports Al Jazeera.
Hours after the blast, which went off shortly after 6pm (1500 GMT), a fire blazed in the port district, casting an orange glow across the night sky as helicopters hovered and ambulance sirens sounded across the capital.
The blast was heard throughout Cyprus, which is about 160 km away.
It revived memories of the 1975-90 civil war and its aftermath, when Lebanese endured heavy shelling, car bombings and Israeli air raids. Some residents thought an earthquake had struck.
Dazed, weeping and injured people walked through streets searching for relatives.
"The blast blew me metres away. I was in a daze and was all covered in blood. It brought back the vision of another explosion I witnessed against the US embassy in 1983," said Huda Baroudi, a Beirut designer.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab promised there would be accountability for the blast at the "dangerous warehouse", adding "those responsible will pay the price".
The blast threatens to cause a new humanitarian crisis in a nation that hosts hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and which is already grappling with an economic meltdown under one of the world's biggest debt burdens.