I received an email from a lady named Bernadette earlier in the month on the first time she saw the phrase “looks like Beirut” being used:

I recall after the ‘Sydney Hilton Hotel Bombing’ way back on 13 February, 1978, a Sydney newspaper carried the headline “Beirut comes to Sydney”.

A search online for the article has been unsuccessful (not surprising though). Could this be the first time the ‘cliche’ was used?

From Wikipedia: Aftermath of 1978 Hilton Sydney Bombing

From Wikipedia: Aftermath of 1978 Hilton Sydney Bombing