Beirut explosion: 'Orient Queen' cruise liner capsizes after blast

One of the ship's crew members was killed in the blast and another is reported missing

This August 5, 2020, handout satellite image obtained courtesy of  Maxar Technologies shows the capsized Orient Queen cruise ship after the explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020. For at least six years, hundreds of tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which Lebanese authorities say caused Tuesday's massive blast, were negligently stored in a Beirut port warehouse, waiting for disaster to strike. The odourless crystalline substance commonly used as a fertiliser has caused numerous industrial explosions over the decades -- including the massive one in Beirut that killed at least 113 people, wounded thousands and left 300,000 homeless - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
 / AFP / Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies / Handout / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
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The Orient Queen cruise ship capsized at her berth in Beirut following Lebanon's deadly explosion on Tuesday.

One of the ship's crew members was killed in the blast and another is reported missing.

Several other crew members are in hospitals across the city, said the ship's operator Abou Merhi Cruises, who called the incident a tragedy.

The 120-metre long vessel capsized overnight in Beirut. Tuesday's explosion caused damage to the berth that led to the ship taking on too much water.

 

Extensive damage was also reported at the head office of Abou Merhi Cruises, in the Awwal Bliss area of Beirut.

The Orient Queen had capacity for up to 300 passengers. At the time of the blast, no travellers were on board because summer cruising operations had been cancelled due to the coroanivurs pandemic.

The five-star cruise liner typically sails from Beirut Port to five destinations in Europe and Asia during summer. Had normal operations been in place, it’s likely that the cruise liner would have been at sea at the time of the explosion.

“It’s a sad, sad day for all of us,” said the cruise operator on social media. “Abou Merhi Cruises has lost a precious soul in the tragedy that took place at the port of Beirut. Heilemariam Reta (Hailey) from Ethiopia.”

"Our prayers and thoughts are with the family of Mustafa Airout from Syria who was at the port and is still missing," continued the post.

A representative of the cruise operator said Mr Airout had last been seen "very close to the explosion".

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