Hospitals in Beirut, Lebanon, were so badly damaged in Tuesday’s massive explosion that they could not admit any patients from the blast, which also hit a warehouse that housed much of the country’s vaccine supply.
Lebanon’s prime minister said the explosion on Tuesday was caused by a port warehouse containing more than 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate.
It leveled parts of the city and, according to the Lebanese Red Cross, killed at least 100 people and some 4,000.
Healthcare workers were among those killed. Rescue workers were still searching for survivors the next day.
A helicopter puts out a fire at the scene of an explosion at the port of Lebanon’s capital Beirut on August 4, 2020.
(Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images
Multiple reports said that hospitals in the city were badly hit, and have been left unable or struggling to treat patients from the blast.
The New York Times, citing doctors, reported that at least four of the city’s hospitals were too damaged to admit patients.
A man carries away an injured person following a massive explosion in Beirut’s port on August 4, 2020.
Marwan Naamani/picture alliance via Getty Images
He said: “Some people had broken limbs, some showered with glass”
“I walked in, I saw a few people lying on the floor — doctors trying to put IVs into them. A couple of people were passed out.”
One nurse at the St. George Hospital ran into the hospital’s intensive care unit and picked up three premature babies, holding them to her chest and calling for help after the ceiling partially collapsed and the unit’s glass shattered, the Times reported.
Dr. Joseph Haddad, the director of the intensive care unit, was walking home from work during when the blast happened, and he found his apartment ruined, the Times said.
He then went back to work to help patients, but found the hospital had also been destroyed.
“The patients were coming down the stairs, the elevators weren’t working. They were walking down from as high as nine floors up,” he said.
“It was the deepest hell of an apocalypse. When I went back to my home an hour later, people were crying in the streets.”
He said that at least four nurses from the hospital died, and that five of its doctors were wounded.
Hamad Hasan, Lebanon’s health minister, said that the chaos in the city made treating patients difficult.
“We need everything to hospitalize the victims, and there is an acute shortage of everything,” he told reporters, according to the Times.
A view of the partially destroyed Beirut neighbourhood of Mar Mikhael on August 5, 2020 in the aftermath of a massive explosion in the Lebanese capital.
PATRICK BAZ/AFP via Getty Images
Dr. Peter Noun, the head of the hospital’s Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Department, said: “Every floor of the hospital is damaged. I didn’t see this even during the war. It’s a catastrophe.”
“The damage is extremely bad. All the rooms are damaged. All the parents and their children were in their rooms. Everything just fell down, the windows destroyed, the ceiling in pieces,” he said, according to the Times.
And, according to the Times, the explosion also threatens the country’s vaccine and medicine supply. The outlet said children’s vaccines and medications for diseases like cancer are stored in a warehouse half a mile from the blast site.
The Times reported that it “was believed to have been razed” in the blast.
Other countries are now offering aid and medical staff to Lebanon.
France is sending two planes of emergency workers, a mobile medical unit, and 15 tons of aid. Egypt opened a field hospital in Beirut and Jordan is also providing a military field hospital, The Guardian reported.
Other countries also said they are ready to help.
The blast and new pressure on hospitals came as the country was already dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Lebanon’s 65 deaths and more than 5,000 cases are lower than many countries, recent spikes had put pressure on the healthcare system.
Intensive care specialist Dr Osman Itani said on Sunday that intensive care rooms at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri University Hospital were “full,” and that if cases kept increasing at the same rate, ” the hospital will not be able to accommodate the cases requiring intensive care,” The Guardian reported.
It is not yet clear how that hospital, around three miles from the epicenter, was affected by the blast.