German diplomat killed in Beirut blast

In the devastating explosion in the Lebanese capital Beirut, an employee of the German Embassy was also killed, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced Thursday.

German diplomat killed in Beirut blast
Lebenon's capital of Beirut on Thursday morning. Photo: DPA

“Our worst fears have been confirmed. A member of our Embassy in Beirut has died in her apartment as a result of the explosion,” he said of the first confirmed German fatality.

“All members of the Foreign Ministry are deeply saddened by the loss of their colleague.”

Maas expressed his and colleagues' condolences to the relatives and staff of the Embassy in Beirut.

“My thanks go to all those who, like our late colleague, take great personal risks every day all over the world in the service of our country,” Maas said.

A tweet from the Foreign Office expressing Maas' condolences.

READ ALSO: German embassy staff among thousands wounded in Beirut blast

The massive detonation in the port of Beirut on Tuesday has killed more than 130 people and injured around 5,000.

Rescue workers expect the number of victims to rise further. The explosion destroyed large parts of the port and surrounding areas.

Germany has pledged aid to Beirut, both in the form of financial support and Germany a large-scale Bundeswehr mission.

The country's Air Force is providing its Airbus A310 “MedEvac”, which is equipped to transport seriously injured people.

The exact cause of the detonation is still unclear. According to various reports, it is connected with large quantities of ammonium nitrate which are said to have been stored in the port for years without any safety precautions.



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UPDATE: One person killed, 11 injured in explosion at German housing block

One person was killed and at least 11 were injured in an explosion Friday at a residential building in the German city of Blankenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, authorities confirmed on Friday.

UPDATE: One person killed, 11 injured in explosion at German housing block
Police shared a photo of the damage. Photo: DPA

The mayor of Blankenburg Heiko Breithaupt told reporters at a press conference that 11 people had been injured, despite earlier police estimates putting the figure at around 25.

One of those was seriously hurt, while nine had escaped with light injuries and another had sustained more serious injuries, Breithaupt said.

The mayor added that the building was now a “scene of devastation”.

Local police chief Frank Götze said that the person killed had not yet been identified, but said the victim may be the owner of the apartment in which the explosion happened.

Police were also unable to say if the blast was deliberately set off or if it was an accident.

Photo: DPA

Götze said the explosion was probably caused by gas canisters found at the scene.

Yet he added that it was unclear why the gas canisters were there, given that the building was supplied by a district heating system.

The explosion struck shortly before 9am at a five-storey building with 60 apartments, sending splinters flying up to 60 metres away.

Residents in the building have been evacuated, police said, with one family transferred to emergency accommodation.

A closer view of the damaged apartment. Photo: DPA

Breithaupt said police were at the scene, and that investigations could continue “well into the night”.

A nearby kindergarten was also evacuated, with around 100 children being taken out of the facility.

Blankenburg is located in the Harz region and has about 20,000 residents.