Before and after pictures show scale of destruction caused by Beirut blast

These shocking before and after images in Beirut lay bare the devastation wreaked by the explosion that ripped apart the port killing at least 100 people.

The industrial waterfront by the Mediterranean Sea was full of warehouses which were levelled by the blast on Tuesday evening.

Hospitals were damaged and windows shattered miles away as shockwaves raced from the explosion site into the densely populated residential areas and shopping districts nearby.

A giant mushroom cloud was sent skyward after the blast, sparking intense fears over what had caused it.

Initial reports suggested a fire had detonated a warehouse at the port.

Abbas Ibrahim, chief of Lebanese general security, said it might have been caused by highly explosive material that was confiscated from a ship some time ago and stored at the port. Local television channel LBC said the material was ammonium nitrate.

Witnesses reported seeing a strange, orange cloud like that which appears when toxic nitrogen dioxide gas is released after an explosion involving nitrates.

US president Donald Trump described the explosion as a ‘terrible attack’, while revealing American military generals believe it was likely caused by a bomb.

The president was asked why he called it an attack and not an accident, especially since Lebanese officials say they have not determined the cause of the explosion.

He told reporters at the White House: ‘It would seem like it was based on the explosion. I met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel that it was.

‘This was not a – some kind of a manufacturing explosion type of an event… They seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind, yes.’

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