Blast rocks Hezbollah arms depot in south Lebanon

Circumstances remain unclear as Hezbollah sets up a security cordon around the blast site, about 50km (30 miles) south of Beirut.
Tuesday 22/09/2020
A Hezbollah civil defence ambulance blocks a road that leads to the site of an explosion that rocked a Hezbollah stronghold, in the southern village of Ain Qana, Lebanon, September 22. (Reuters)
A Hezbollah civil defence ambulance blocks a road that leads to the site of an explosion that rocked a Hezbollah stronghold, in the southern village of Ain Qana, Lebanon, September 22. (Reuters)

BEIRUT - An arms depot of the Iran-backed Shia militant group Hezbollah exploded in southern Lebanon on Tuesday, a security source said, injuring several people and sending a new shockwave across a nation grappling with its deepest crisis in three decades.

The security source said the arms depot blast, which sent a huge column of black smoke into the sky, was caused by a “technical error.”

The precise circumstances remain unlcear. A security source said Hezbollah had set up a security cordon around the blast site, about 50km (30 miles) south of Beirut. Journalists were prevented from approaching the area.

The explosion rocked the village of Ain Qana in south Lebanon, a political stronghold of the heavily armed and politically powerful Shia group.

The blast has further rattled a nation grappling with its worst crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war and still reeling from a devastating explosion at Beirut port that ripped through the capital, killing at least 190 people.

Cars drive near a poster depicting Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah at the entrance of the village of Ain Qana, Lebanon September 22, 2020. (REUTERS)
Cars drive near a poster depicting Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah at the entrance of the village of Ain Qana, Lebanon September 22, 2020. (REUTERS)

Since the Beirut blast on August 4, subsequent fires at the port and elsewhere in the capital have caused panic in Beirut and the country, whose economy is in meltdown.

A Lebanese security official in southern Lebanon said the explosion occurred in a Hezbollah arms depot in the village, but did not elaborate on the cause.

An official with Hezbollah confirmed there was an explosion but declined to give further details. The official said there were no casualties and that no Hezbollah members were targeted. Another local Hezbollah official could not confirm any casualties and said the nature of the blast was not yet clear. There was no immediate statement from Hezbollah.

Security sources said there were several injuries without giving figures.

A witness near the village said they felt the ground shake.

Footage from the area broadcast by Al-Jadeed showed men walking over scorched ground littered with debris. Damage was shown in an adjacent house where the floor was covered in glass and what appeared to be a pool of blood.

At least one fire was still burning in the location, the footage showed.