Beirut Blast — Lebanon Detains Port Employees

  • Aid workers are searching for people who went missing after the Beirut Blast.
  • According to the Lebanese cabinet, all those assigned to the army will be detained until further notice.
  • Customs chief Badri Zahir said his department had been told to remove the chemicals, but said "this did not happen."

A number of coastal officials have been detained in connection with a blast near the Lebanese capital, Beirut earlier this week. The government declared a state of emergency in the country for two weeks. The blast killed over 100 people and injured more than 5,000.

On the evening of 4 August 2020, at 18:08 EEST, multiple explosions occurred in the city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The main explosion was linked to approximately 2,750 tonnes (3,030 short tons) of ammonium nitrate that had been confiscated by the government from an abandoned ship and stored in the port without proper safety measures for the previous six years.

Meanwhile, aid workers are searching for people who went missing after the “Beirut Blast.” The blast shook the entire city and a huge plume of smoke could be seen in the coastal area. The blast occurred shortly afternoon in front of a crowd of 5,000 people, according to President Michel Aoun.

According to the Lebanese cabinet, all those assigned to the army will be detained until further notice on the ammonium nitrate deposit on the Beirut coast. Ammonium nitrate is used in farms as chemical fertilizer and also acts as an explosive.

Customs chief Badri Zahir said his department had been told to remove the chemicals, but said “this did not happen. We leave it to the experts to figure out the reasons.”

President Michel Aoun has called an emergency cabinet meeting and declared three days of official mourning on Wednesday. The blast occurred shortly after a fire broke out on the city’s coast. Reports from Beirut say there are no more hospitals to treat the wounded, and many hospitals have refused to accept more wounded.

President Aoun has also announced billions in emergency funds. “We are witnessing massive bloodshed. There are victims everywhere,” George Katani, head of the Lebanese Red Crescent, told the media. “More than 137 people have been killed. Our teams are still searching for victims in the area.”

The Lebanese interior minister and head of public security said the blast appeared to have taken place at a weapons depot seized several years ago, but both officials said the exact cause was not yet known. Investigations are ongoing. President Aoun said it was “unacceptable” that more than 2,500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was stored in a warehouse.

Far from the blast, buildings collapsed, trees fell, and rows of burnt cars could be seen on the roads. Many countries around the world have expressed their condolences to the victims of the explosion in Beirut.

Michel Aoun is a Lebanese politician who is the current President of Lebanon. He was elected president on 31 October 2016 on the 46th electoral session of the Lebanese parliament, breaking a 29-month deadlock. He is a Maronite Christian and the founder of the Free Patriotic Movement.

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has expressed his condolences to the people of Lebanon, the families of the victims, and the government following the deadly blasts in Beirut. Mr. Ghani said he hoped the Lebanese people and government would be able to cope with the difficult situation. Afghanistan’s first lady, Rula Ghani, is of Lebanese descent.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, says he is “deeply saddened” by the incident, and is ready to help. US President Donald Trump also expressed regret over the incident, and said the United States would monitor the situation and provide all possible assistance.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have expressed regret over the incident. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the great and resilient people of Lebanon,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted. “Stay strong, Lebanon.”

The video, released on social media, shows smoke in the air and destroyed buildings beneath it. A Reuters news agency report said four bodies had been exhumed from the rubble.

Some people are seen in local media reports, under collapsed walls and ceilings. Eyewitnesses say the blast was so powerful that it pierced their ears. Video reports show overturned vehicles and collapsed buildings.

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site.  

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