Beirut explosion: news summary for 6 August 2020

Beirut explosion: latest news live from Lebanon

Beirut explosion: live updates, 6/7 August

Russian captain astonished to hear his ship delivered Beirut explosive

When Boris Prokoshev, a former sea captain spending his retirement years in a Russian village, woke up and found an email saying a ship he once commanded had carried the ammonium nitrate that blew up swathes of Beirut, he was astonished.

"I didn't understand anything," he told The Associated Press on Thursday from Verkhnee Buu, 1300 kilometers (800 miles) south of Moscow. 

The email was from a journalist, he said, and titled with the name of the MV Rhosus, which he had captained on a voyage that he was never paid for.

Read on

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A demonstrator is pictured amid smoke rising from tear gas during a protest near parliament in Beirut on 7 August 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Azakir)

Lebanon funerals for those lost in explosion

The Clooneys donate $100,000

Amal and George Clooney are donating a total of $100,000 to Lebanese charities helping provide aid in the capital city of Beirut, which was devastated by Tuesday’s massive explosion.

“We’re both deeply concerned for the people of Beirut and the devastation they’ve faced in the last few days,” the Clooneys said in a statement released Thursday.

“Three charitable organizations we’ve found are providing essential relief on the ground: the Lebanese Red Cross, Impact Lebanon, and Baytna Baytak. We will be donating these three $100,000  and hope that others will help in any way they can,” the couple added.

Four moments when Beirut blast plunged daily life into chaos 

The Washington Post combines four scenes caught on camera that show the moment life was plunged into chaos in Beirut following the massive explosions on 4 August that killed more than 100 people and injured more than 3,000 others.

Around 80,000 children have been displaced by the Beirut explosions

“Over the past 24 hours, UNICEF continued to coordinate closely with authorities and partners on the ground to respond to the urgent needs of families affected, focusing on health, water and the wellbeing of children,” said Violet Speek-Warnery, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Lebanon.

According to the latest information:

- There are numerous reports of children who have been separated from family members, some of whom are still missing;

- At least 12 primary healthcare facilities, maternal, immunization and newborn centres in Beirut have been damaged, impacting services for nearly 120,000 people;

- A children’s hospital in the Karantina area, which had a specialized unit treating critical newborns, was destroyed. One newborn died;

- The remaining operational hospitals are over-stretched and have been depleted of critical medical supplies;

- 10 containers stocked by the Ministry of Public Health with personal protective equipment were destroyed;

- Five out of seven UNICEF-supported vaccine cold rooms were destroyed in the blast, affecting critical vaccination programmes;

- Many schools have reported damage in Beirut and the surrounding area, with assessments ongoing into the level of damage;

- In the past 48 hours, 464 new cases of Covid-19 were registered.

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In pictures: Tunisians wave the Lebanese and Tunisian flags during a gathering in solidarity with the victims of the Beirut explosion, on August 6, 2020, in the capital Tunis. (Photo by Fethi Belaid / AFP)

Port worker found alive after 30 hours at sea

Rescue workers in Beirut have found a port worker alive after the man had spent 30 hours at sea following Tuesday's blast, reports Arab News

Amin Zahid was found unconscious and injured before being transported to hospital, where he remains in a critical condition, according to Lebanon 24 channel.

Lebanon detains 16 in probe of Beirut port blast, state news agency says

Lebanese authorities have taken into custody 16 individuals as part of an investigation into the Beirut port warehouse explosion that shook the capital, state news agency NNA said on Thursday.

It quoted Judge Fadi Akiki, a government representative at the military court, as saying authorities had so far questioned more than 18 port and customs officials and individuals responsible for or involved in maintenance work at the warehouse housing highly explosive material that blew up.

"Sixteen people have been taken into custody as part of the investigation," NNA quoted Akiki as saying, without naming the individuals. He said the investigation was continuing.

Female firefigther buried in Beirut

Female firefighter, Sahar Faris, who died while trying to put out the flames at the Warehouse before the major blast, has been buried buried in emotional funeral in Beirut, the Daily Mail reports.

Now known as the 'the bride of Beirut', Ms Faris was due to married her  her fiancé, Gilbert Karaan, in June next year. 

Beirut explosion aftermath

Filmaker Mayamm Mar shared a video with BBC that captures the damage caused by the blast in her neighbourhood...
 

Macron: audit needed on Lebanon central bank

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that an audit was needed on the Lebanese central bank, among other changes needed in the country, and that the World Bank and United Nations would play a role in any Lebanese reforms.

"If there is no audit of the central bank, in a few months there will be no more imports and then there will be lack of fuel and of food," said Macron, speaking to reporters in Beirut. 

Macron calls for independent investigation into the blast

During his visit to Beirut, the French president called for an independent, transparent investigation  into the explosion, saying it was "owed to the victims and their families".

"I also hope ... that the investigation can be carried out as quickly as possible, in a perfectly independent framework and with transparency to explain, to report on what's happened," Macron said. 

Macron speaks about French aid to Lebannon

French president Emmanuel Macron has given a press conference in which he stressed that French and international aid sent to Lebannon following the Beirut blast must go directly to the Lebanese people, "to NGOs, to those people working on the field and that need that financial aid". Watch more below...

Watch: Wedding video shoot captures blast

Video taken Tuesday during a wedding photo shoot in Lebanon inadvertently captured the blast. The bride can can be seen blown back by the impact of the explosion, while the photographer flees before returning to the scene to capture the aftermath.

Fortunately, nobody at the wedding party was hurt, including the bride and photographer...

Container ships sent to Tripoli to keep Lebanon supply lines running

(Reuters) Leading container lines are diverting ships to Lebanon's smaller terminal of Tripoli after the devastating explosion at Beirut's port that killed 145 people also paralysed vital trade.

Lebanon, which imports almost all it uses, relies on container ships to bring in everything from refrigerated food cargoes to clothing and other consumer goods.

There is no firm date for Beirut port to re-open, and this is a strain on supply chains.

Data from shipping intelligence platform MarineTraffic showed three container ships had arrived in Tripoli in the past 24 hours after being diverted from Beirut, with a further container vessel expected later on Thursday and another due on Saturday.

Tribute to fire fighters

 

The scale of the devastation in Beirut can be seen in this video from CNN. Up to a quarter of a million people were left without homes fit to live in after shockwaves smashed building facades, sucked furniture out into streets and shattered windows several miles (kilometres) inland.

Seismic tremors from the blast were recorded as far away as Eilat on Israel's Red Sea coast, about 580 km (360 miles) south of Beirut.

(Reuters) 

Drone

A still image taken from drone footage shows the damage two days after the explosion in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 6, 2020. Reuters TV/via REUTERS

Lebanese call for "revolution" 

(Reuters) "I see the emotion on your face, the sadness, the pain. This is why I’m here," French President  Emmanuel Macron told Beirut residents, shaking their hands on roads strewn with rubble and flanked by shops with windows blown out after Tuesday's blast that killed 145 and injured 5,000.

Macron, wearing a black tie in mourning and flanked by security guards, promised to send more medical and other aid to Lebanon, while those around him chanted "Revolution" and "The people want the fall of the regime."

"But what is also needed here is political change. This explosion should be the start of a new era," Macron said, making the tour shortly after arriving on the first visit to Lebanon by a foreign leader since the blast.

The president has said he would deliver "home truths" to a government that France and other Western donors have said must reform the country's politics and the economy.

The Lebanese bride whose wedding photo shoot captured the explosion has been one of the most-shared videos of the tragedy. Israa Seblani spoke to Reuters about the blast a day later in the same place. 

Banks to make cheap dollar loans to those affected by Beirut blast

(Reuters) Lebanon's central bank on Thursday instructed banks and financial institutions to extend exceptional dollar loans at zero interest to individuals and firms impacted by the Beirut port explosion.

Money transfer houses should distribute transfers from abroad to Lebanon in dollars, the central bank said separately.

Exceptional loans should be made regardless of customer account limits, carry no interest and be repaid over five years. It said the loans can be repaid in Lebanese pounds based on the interbank rate of 1,515 pounds to the dollar.

The central bank would in turn provide dollar loans at zero interest to the banks and financial institutions granting the exceptional loans, it said.

Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron chats with people as he visits the Gemmayzeh neighborhood which has suffered extensive damage due to a massive explosion in the Lebanese capital. (Photo by - / AFP)

Macron speaks in Beirut

(Reuters) French President Emmanuel Macron told angry Lebanese crowds in downtown Beirut that French aid would not go to "corrupt hands" and he would seek a new deal with political authorities.

"I guarantee you this - aid will not go to corrupt hands," Macron told protesters in central Beirut two days after the city was devastated by a blast.

"I will talk to all political forces to ask them for a new pact. I am here today to propose a new political pact to them," he said, after being greeted by crowds calling for an end to the "regime".

The Lebanese government confirmed the explosion in Beirut was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a fertiliser that had been unsafely stored in the docks.

Australians want chemical plant moved after deadly Beirut blast

(Reuters) Some Australian residents of the city of Newcastle, 163 km (101 miles) north of Sydney, have called for a large ammonium nitrate plant, stockpiling up to four times the amount reportedly detonated in Lebanon, to be relocated.

Lebanese authorities have blamed a huge stockpile of the highly explosive material stored for years in unsafe conditions at Beirut's port for Tuesday's explosion, which killed at least 145 people and injured more than 5,000.

It is estimated about 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were involved in the explosion.

Beirut devastation from the air

(Reuters) - Lebanon's leading Druze politician Walid Jumblatt called on Thursday for an international investigation into the Beirut port explosion and said he had "no trust" in the government to find out the truth about it.

"We have no trust at all in this ruling gang," said Jumblatt, whose party has lawmakers in parliament but is not in the cabinet, which took office in January with backing from the Hezbollah movement and its allies.

If not for the help of foreign states and the Arab region, "Lebanon would disappear", he said, calling for "a government of neutrality."

Shock at the devastation caused by the massive explosion in Beirut was giving way to anger Thursday, as information emerged that officials in the Lebanese capital had ignored repeated warnings about a stockpile of dangerous chemicals linked to the blast.

Lebanon's financial capacity 'very limited', economy minister says after blast

(Reuters) The Lebanese state and central bank have "very limited" financial capacity to confront the impact of the port warehouse explosion that devastated Beirut without foreign aid, its economy minister said on Thursday.

"The capacity of the state is very limited, and so is that of the central bank and the banks. We're not swimming in dollars," Raoul Nehme said in TV comments to Sky News Arabia.

He said many countries were rushing to help and damages were in the billions of dollars.

He said working with the International Monetary Fund was the only way out for Lebanon, which was already wrestling with a dollar crunch and financial meltdown before Tuesday's blast.

Macron arrives in Beirut

The French president is the first head of state to visit Lebanon after the devastating blast. France has long sought to support its former colony and is sending emergency aid after the blast, but diplomats say it has become increasingly worried about endemic corruption and has been pressing for reforms for some time.

"The aim of the president's visit is to belie the idea that Lebanon is alone, sunk and about to disappear," an adviser to Macron said. "It will be an occasion to try to give hope to the Lebanese, tell them there's a way, and that France is there to walk alongside them." (Reuters) 

Lebanon mourns victims of devastating blast, searches for missing

(Reuters) Lebanon mourned on Thursday the victims of the most powerful blast to hit the country that was already being crushed by an economic crisis, as rescuers searched for those missing since the explosion that flattened Beirut port and devastated the city.

French President Emmanuel Macron, making the first visit by a foreign leader since Tuesday's blast which killed at least 137 people and injured 5,000, was due to arrive in Beirut later on Thursday along with specialist rescue personnel and equipment.

Dozens are missing and up to a quarter of a million people were left without homes fit to live in after shockwaves smashed building facades, sucked furniture out into streets and shattered windows miles inland.

Officials expect the death toll to rise.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared three days of mourning from Thursday for victims of the explosion, the most devastating ever to hit the city that is still scarred by civil war three decades ago and reeling from a financial meltdown and surge in coronavirus cases.

Officials have blamed the disaster on a huge stockpile of highly explosive material held for years at the port in unsafe conditions. The government has ordered port officials to be put under house arrest, ministerial sources told Reuters.

President Trump repeats conflicting message on explosion

Donald Trump was questioned about his statement that some “great generals” told him they thought that Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut was an “attack” involving “a bomb of some kind.” The query was on the back of Defense Secretary Mark Esper attempting to roll back the statement, saying he was “still getting information” on the blast in the Lebanese capital, but that “most believe that it was an accident, as reported.”

Once again, the president appeared to dangerously speculate on the basis that not everything about the incident was fully clear.

Beirut explosion live coverage: welcome

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the aftermath of Tuesday’s blast in Beirut, which saw two huge explosions in the Lebanese capital’s port area, caused by the detonation of around 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate. The disaster has left at least 135 people dead, while around 5,000 have been injured.

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