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Beirut explosion: Death toll rises to 135, around 5,000 injured; two-week state of emergency declared

The death toll in the Beirut blast rose to 135, and around 5,000 people were injured, reported The Guardian quoting Lebanese news channel Al Manar TV. The government also declared a two-week state of emergency, effectively giving the military full powers during this time, even as President Michael Aoun vowed before a Cabinet meeting today that the investigation would be transparent and that those responsible will be punished.

Residents of Beirut – stunned, sleepless and stoic – emerged Wednesday from the aftermath of a catastrophic explosion searching for missing relatives, bandaging their wounds and retrieving what’s left of their homes.

The blast, which flattened much of the city’s port, is said to have been caused by seized explosives stored in a warehouse at the port. But initial investigations indicate years of inaction and negligence over the storage of highly explosive material in Beirut port, an official source familiar with the findings told Reuters.

Two US officials told the Associated Press that there are no indications that the massive explosion was the result of an attack by either a nation state or proxy forces. A senior Defense Department official and a member of the U.S. intelligence community told AP that, at the moment, the explosion appears to have been caused by improper storage of explosions. Both individuals spoke Wednesday to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss intelligence briefings publicly.

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