- Israel has denied having anything to do with the huge explosion in Beirut, adding that the country was ready to give humanitarian and medical assistance to Lebanon.
- The explosion was the size of a small nuclear bomb and registered 3.5 on the Richter scale.
- The explosion was felt as far away as Cyprus more than 200 kilometres (180 miles) across the Mediterranean.
- The huge death toll is almost certain to rise with many people trapped under rubble
- At least three hospitals destroyed and two damaged as Beirut tackles Lebanon's Covid-19 outbreak
- They seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind; Trump
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Wednesday, 5 August 2020
The explosion was the size of a small nuclear bomb and registered 3.5 on the Richter scale. The explosion was felt as far away as Cyprus more than 200 kilometres (180 miles) across the Mediterranean. The huge death toll is almost certain to rise with many people trapped under rubble
Officials linked the blast to some 2,700 tonnes of confiscated ammonium nitrate that were being stored in a warehouse at the port for six years. Aoun assembled the country's High Defence Council following the explosion. At least three Beirut hospitals destroyed, two damaged Dr Mirna Doumit, president of the Order of Nurses in Beirut, said three hospitals were completely destroyed in the city. "So we had to evacuate patients who were in those hospitals to others. In addition, we have two other hospitals that were partially destroyed. So it was a catastrophe and a big hit to the healthcare system, which was already bleeding," she told Al Jazeera from the Lebanese capital. "We lost three nurses working in hospitals.
I don't find words to describe what happened. It's like we are in a horror film."Nasser Yassin, professor at the American University of Beirut, told Al Jazeera he doubts the Lebanese government will be able to deal with this disaster on its own. "Like many issues for the last few months, we've seen the Lebanese government not taking the right decisions when it comes to the economy, or finances or social issues. And I can imagine that this disaster, this catastrophe, will be dealt with by the way Lebanese people do - relying on themselves and the support of their communities," he said.
Yassin called on the international community to provide food support, noting major grain silos had been destroyed in the blast. "For the coming days and months, we will be dealing with the immediate aftermath, and after that, we really need to look into new ways and new people to govern this country," he said, adding: "We need more responsible leaders and we need the engagement of the international community to deal with this disaster." Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein expressed his country's grief over the Beirut blast, and offered to help in "any way we can". "Malaysia stands together in grief as our thoughts and prayers accompany the strong people of Lebanon," he said in a Twitter post. "We stand ready to support any way we can."
At least two Filipino nationals were among the dead in the massive explosion in Beirut, according to the Philippine Embassy in Lebanon. The embassy statement also said six other Filipinos were injured in the blast. More than 27,000 Filipinos working in Lebanon, according to the latest figures of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs. Badri Daher, the director of Lebanon's customs office, said his agency was not responsible for the storage of ammonium nitrate that triggered a massive explosion that left dozens dead. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Bader pointed the finger instead at the head of the Port, Hassan Koraytem."They are responsible, and I can tell you that this material shouldn't have stayed there - it shouldn't have been there in the first place."Koraytem could not be reached for comment.
The Port Directorate is under the authority of the Public Works and Transport Ministry. The massive explosion in Beirut triggered a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, according to Germany's geosciences centre GFZ. The explosion, that killed at least 78 people and injured about 4,000 others was heard and felt as far away as Cyprus more than 200 kilometres (180 miles) across the Mediterranean. Lebanon's Supreme Defence Council recommended declaring Beirut a disaster-stricken city following a massive explosion, declaring a two-week state of emergency in the capital and handing over security responsibility to military authorities.
A council statement, read live on television, said President Michel Aoun has decided to release 100 billion Lebanese pounds ($66m) in emergency allocations from the 2020 budget. It also recommended in advance of a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday that a committee be tasked with investigating the blast and present its findings within five days to mete out the maximum punishment for those responsible. The death toll from the massive blast at a port warehouse near central Beirut has risen to 78, with over 4,000 wounded. Officials said they expected the death toll to rise further after Tuesday's blast as emergency workers dug through rubble to rescue people and remove the dead.
President Michel Aoun called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared. US President Donald Trump said the huge explosion that shook Beirut appeared to be a "terrible attack.""We have a very good relationship with the people of Lebanon and we will be there to help. It looks like a terrible attack," Trump told reporters at the White House."I've met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel that this was not some kind of manufacturing explosion type of an event ... They seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind."However, the US president did not present any evidence to back his claim.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said one of its ships docked at the port was damaged in the explosion, leaving a number of its personnel wounded, including some in critical condition. UNIFIL said it was transporting the wounded peacekeepers to the nearest hospitals and was assessing the situation, including the scale of the impact on its personnel."We are with the people and the Government of Lebanon during this difficult time and stand ready to help and provide any assistance and support," Major General Del Col, UNIFIL head of mission and force commander, said in a statement. Aoun said that it is "unacceptable" that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were stored in a warehouse for six years without safety measures, according to statements published on the presidency's Twitter account. Aoun also pledged that those responsible would face the "harshest punishments" and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared.