BEIRUT

The patriarch of the Lebanese Maronites urged emergency assistance from the UN and the international community Wednesday in the aftermath of a massive explosion that rocked Beirut, according to Lebanon’s official news agency.

Bechara Boutros al-Rahi stressed countries must avoid political considerations and said what happened Tuesday in Beirut is beyond politics and disagreements, the news agency said.

Al-Rahi also called for UN-led funding for the reconstruction of the capital city.

A fire at a warehouse containing explosives at the Port of Beirut led to a massive blast that left 135 people dead and nearly 5,000 injured.

The explosion caused massive damage in several neighborhoods in the capital.

President Michel Aoun cited ammonium nitrate as the source of the explosion that was heard across the city and its suburbs, and leveled a three-story building.

Lebanon’s Supreme Defense Council declared Beirut a disaster zone and announced a state of emergency in the capital for two weeks.

The explosion deepens the woes of the country, which for months has been grappling with a severe economic crisis and deep political polarization.

* Writing by Zehra Nur Duz in Ankara

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