Beirut explosion sinks Orient Queen cruise ship, killing two crew members

6 August 2020 (Last Updated August 6th, 2020 12:51)

The Orient Queen cruise ship which was berthed at Beirut port in Lebanon has reportedly sunk following two very large explosions in the port area on 4 August.

Beirut explosion sinks Orient Queen cruise ship, killing two crew members
On 4 August, the Port of Beirut suffered from two explosions, which were caused by ammonium nitrate. Credit: Ismail Küpeli.

The Orient Queen cruise ship which was berthed at Beirut port in Lebanon has reportedly sunk following two very large explosions in the port area on 4 August.

Media reports suggest that two people on the cruise ship have died and seven others are injured.

According to the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs, the two deceased were from the Philippines.

The cruise ship is flagged in the Bahamas and is operated by Abou Merhi Cruises. Orient Queen had returned to its homeport in Beirut from a 22-day voyage.

Built in 1989, Orient Queen had a capacity to accommodate 300 guests and 153 crew members.

The explosions at the port damaged the cruise ship, which led to the seepage of water into the ship.

The BNS Bijoy navy ship has also reportedly been damaged by the explosions. In addition, a cargo ship and a livestock carrier have been damaged.

In total, the explosions at the port have killed more than 135 people and injured more than 5,000 people, as of 6 August. The number of casualties is expected to increase as the rescue mission is underway.

Lebanese officials said that the explosions were caused by 2,750t of ammonium nitrate that was stored in a warehouse for six years.

Lebanese authorities have placed the port officials who oversaw the port’s storage and security under house arrest. The investigation into the explosions is pending.

Lebanon President Michael Aoun has announced a three-day mourning period and said that the Lebanese Government will release emergency funds worth LBP100bn ($66m).

Many countries, including the UK, the UAE and Australia, have extended support to Lebanon.