Capsized Cruise Ship Was Just Metres From Epicentre of Beirut Explosion

A laid-up cruise ship docked just metres away from the epicentre of the deadly explosion that so far has killed at least 100 people in Lebanon’s capital city of Beirut and left thousands more injured, has capsized, killing two crew members.

The ship began listing yesterday evening and suffered significant damage as a result of the explosion, the ship has now capsized and only the portside of the ship is visible above the waterline.

Built in 1989, the ship was the former Vistamar operated by German cruise brand Plantours between 1991 and 2012. The ship was also chartered to Seetours, which later became AIDA.

The explosion has destroyed the landscape of the port and surrounding city buildings.

According to Al Jazeera, several people on board Orient Queen were wounded and taken to hospital. Two crew members died.

Image: Ledia Bizri

“The ship is totally destroyed – the cabins, the lounge, everything,” Vincenco Orlandini, a 69-year-old crew member, said.

“I heard the blast, and I flew to the opposite of the lobby, then I landed on the carpet, and I’m lucky, I think that saved me.”

The Orient Queen had been docked in the city since 27 June and most recently sailed for Abou Merhi Cruises on Aegean cruises from Beirut.

The explosion has also destroyed the head office building of the ship’s operator, Abou Merhi Cruises.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab said that the explosion was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate left unsecured at a warehouse near the city’s port.

Video on social media showed the moment a large building exploded, sending a huge shockwave and dark red smoke across the city that was heard and felt as far away as Cyprus – more than 125 miles away.

Thousands of people have been injured across the city and there still remains many dock workers trapped under the rubble and debris in the port.