A general view shows the damage at the site of the blast. Reuters
Fireworks and ammonium nitrate appear to have been the fuel that ignited a massive explosion that rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut, experts and videos of the blast suggest.
The scale of the damage - from the epicentre of the explosion at the port of Beirut to the windows blown out kilometres (miles) away - resembles other blasts involving the chemical compound commonly used as an agricultural fertilizer.
But the compound itself typically doesn't detonate on its own and requires another ignition source. That likely came from a fire that engulfed what initially appeared to be fireworks that were stored at the port.
Online videos of the disaster's initial moments show sparks and lights inside the smoke rising from the blaze, just prior to the massive blast. That likely indicates that fireworks were involved, said an expert
Jeffrey Lewis, a missile expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, offered a similar assessment.
"It looks like an accident,” Lewis told the AP. "First, there was a fire preceding the explosion, which is not an attack. And some of the videos show munitions what I could call popcorning, exploding like ’pop, pop, pop, pop.’”
He added that "it’s very common to see fires detonate explosives."
"If you have a fire raging next to something explosive, and you don’t put it out, it blows up," he said.
The white cloud that accompanied the massive blast appeared to be a condensation cloud, often common in massive explosions in humid conditions that can follow the shock waves of an explosion, Lewis said.
Orange clouds also followed the blast, likely from toxic nitrogen dioxide gas that's released after an explosion involving nitrates. Experts should be able to determine the power of the blast by measuring the crater left behind, which appeared massive in aerial footage shot on Wednesday morning by the AP.
What initially started the fire at the port remains unclear. Beirut was sunny before Tuesday's explosion, with a daily high of 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).
Lebanese Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi, in comments to a local TV station, made no mention of ignited fireworks but said it appeared the blast was caused by the detonation of more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored in a warehouse at the dock ever since it was confiscated from a cargo ship in 2014.
The devastation surrounding the port resembled other ammonium nitrate explosions, such as the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and a 1947 ship explosion that struck Texas City, Texas.
Dua Lipa and Priyanka Chopra are among the stars to show support for the people of Beirut following a large explosion in the city.
"I don't want to die." Those were the first words Hiba's six-year-old son screamed after the massive explosion at Beirut port sent shards of glass flying around their house.
President Donald Trump is continuing to suggest the massive explosion that killed at least 135 people in Lebanon might have been a deliberate attack, even as officials in Lebanon and his own defence chief say it's believed to have be an accident
Rescuers searched for survivors in Beirut Wednesday after a cataclysmic explosion at the port sowed devastation across entire neighbourhoods, killing more than 100 people, wounding thousands and plunging Lebanon deeper into crisis.
President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan called on citizens to strictly adhere to anti-virus protocols while celebrating Eid Al Fitr, stating that the measures were necessary to avoid a massive outbreak.
Home Minister Mohammed Mahmood Ali was informed about the decision and he told the Muslim leaders that he would speak to the Director General of Police.
Proposed by the militants and matched by President Ashraf Ghani, the truce will grant respite for Afghans as they mark the Muslim festival with friends and family.