Once towering structures razed to the ground, the crumpled skeletons of buildings and billowing smoke can be seen on harrowing aerial footage captured in Beirut as dawn broke hours after Tuesday’s devastating explosions.

The full scale of the devastation in the Lebanese capital was captured by a drone as rescue teams continued operations to search for survivors and deal with the aftermath of the blasts that struck at 6pm local time (1500 GMT) with the force of a 3.5-magnitude earthquake.

Our reporter, Bel Trew, was a few kilometres away from the epicentre but said she had never felt a blast of that strength in her decade of covering conflict, war and suicide bombings.

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

The catastrophic explosions, which were also felt 290km across the Mediterranean in Cyprus, have flattened entire areas of central Beirut, and destroyed streets and buildings within a radius of several kilometres.

Up to 250,000 people have been left homeless because of the damage in the city, according to Marwan Abboud, the governor of Beirut.

Lebanon’s president Michel Aoun has suggested a stockpile of more than 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate – a common industrial chemical used in mining explosives and fertilisers – is to blame for the blasts, which sent a towering grey and red mushroom cloud into the sky.

The death toll from the explosions reached 100 on Wednesday morning, but officials said they expect the number to rise as the rescue mission is underway. Another 4,000 people were left injured by the blasts.

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