Beirut explosion: protests, riots and news - Sunday 9 August

Beirut explosion: latest news - Sunday 9 August

Trump promises further aid to Lebanon

The president told reporters on Sunday that the U.S. will give substantial further aid to Lebanon after sending three planes of medical equipment but did not specify how much that will mean in terms of exact figures. 

"In these horrendous times, Lebanon is not alone"

World leaders and participants of a virtual donors' conference on Sunday pledged $298 million to Lebanon to help rebuild Beirut. 

police

Police officers are seen during a protest following Tuesday's blast, in Beirut, Lebanon August 9, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Beirut governor says many bodies still unidentified from port blast are foreign workers

(Reuters) Many foreign workers and truck drivers are missing and assumed to be among the casualties of the Beirut port warehouse blast, complicating efforts to identity the victims, the city's governor said on Sunday.

"There are a lot missing whom we cannot identify. They are truck drivers and foreign workers," Marwan Abboud told the Al Jadeed television channel. "No one is identifying them -- this is a difficult task that takes time."

Syria's government has said that around 45 of the more than 158 people confirmed killed in the blast were Syrian nationals. Syrians comprise the biggest foreign labour force in Lebanon, working in construction, agriculture and transport. 

Beirut

A demonstrator gestures during a protest following Tuesday's blast in Beirut's port area, in Beirut, Lebanon, August 9, 2020. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

IMF willing to redouble Lebanon efforts, subject to reform commitment

(Reuters) The International Monetary Fund said on Sunday it was willing to redouble efforts to help Lebanon after the devastating blast that hit Beirut, but said all of the country's institutions needed to show willingness to carry out reforms.

In a statement to an emergency donor conference for Lebanon, the IMF's managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, laid out reforms expected, including steps to restore the solvency of public finances and the soundness of the financial system, and temporary safeguards to avoid continued capital outflows.

Even before the massive explosion that killed 158 people and destroyed swathes of Beirut on Tuesday, a financial crisis had led Lebanon to enter negotiations with the IMF in May after it defaulted on its foreign currency debt. Those talks were put on hold in the absence of reforms.

World leaders pledge Beirut aid

After a conference on Sunday world leaders have pledged almost $300 million in aid to Beirut, according to reports.   

Lebanese environment minister resigns from government

(Reuters) Lebanon's environment minister resigned from Prime Minister Hassan Diab's government on Sunday, saying the government had lost a number of opportunities to reform, a statement said.

Damianos Kattar's departure follows the resignation of Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad earlier on Sunday in the wake of the explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday. 

Protests in Lebanon

According to local media sources, some 110 people have been injured in clashes between protesters and police in Beirut following last Tuesday's blast. Labenese are venting their anger at the country's authorities in the aftermath of the explosion that left over 150 people dead and around 300,000 people without homes. 

Fire breaks out near Lebanese parliament amid clashes with protesters

(Reuters) A fire broke out at an entrances to parliament square in central Beirut as hundreds of angry anti-government protesters tried to break into the cordoned-off area, Lebanese TV channels showed.

The live broadcasts also showed police firing tear gas to disperse demonstrators. Protesters broke into the housing and transport ministry offices.

Beirut blast

Tuesday's blast had power of magnitude 3.3 earthquake

A man draped in a Lebanese flag reacts as he stands before the ravaged port of Lebanon's capital Beirut on Sunday, in the aftermath of a colossal explosion that occurred on Tuesday due to a huge pile of ammonium nitrate that had languished for years at a port warehouse.

The explosion, which claimed 150 lives, left a 43-metre deep crater, a security official said.

The blast, which was felt across the country and as far as the island of Cyprus, was recorded by the sensors of the American Institute of Geophysics (USGS) as having the power of a magnitude 3.3 earthquake.

(Photo: PATRICK BAZ / AFP)

"They killed us. They literally killed us"

As protestors clashed with police on the streets of Beirut amid fury at the Lebanese government over its failure to avert the huge explosion that killed 150 people in the city on Tuesday, one demonstrator told the BBC: "We have literally reached rock bottom - I don’t want to talk about it because I’m going to cry." Another person said to the broadcaster: "They killed us. They literally killed us."

Paris

People in Paris gather at the Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower on Sunday, to stage a demonstration to support the people of Lebanon after Beirut's devastating explosion.

(Photo: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

Lebanon's worst enemy is its own government - an opinion

'Lebanon has been through a lot: war, crises and catastrophes. But what happened this week in the port of Beirut went beyond anything the Lebanese could have imagined.

'The explosion reduced large parts of the capital to rubble, made 300,000 people homeless and took away their hopes for a better life — hopes cherished particularly by young Lebanese.

'Despite everything this small country has experienced up to now, the deadly, gross failures on the part of the incompetent Lebanese government have exceeded the population's worst nightmares.'

Read on

Beirut arrivals at Dubai airport receive white roses

As Beirut continues to feel the devastating effects from the horrific explosion that took place on the evening of August 4, some UAE residents have arrived back in Dubai from the Lebanese capital and received a heartwarming greeting from airport staff.

As people arrived into Dubai on a flight from Beirut, they were greeted by airport staff with white roses, which are often a symbol used to showcase eternal loyalty.

Photos of the emotional scenes were shared on social media, with many who arrived thanking the UAE for “always being there for Lebanon”.

 

Ex-Lebanon premier denies knowledge of Beirut shipment

Former Lebanese premier Tammam Salam has denied receiving correspondence or information about the arrival of hazardous chemical materials shipment in Beirut, which allegedly caused a deadly blast in the capital on Tuesday.

In a statement on Sunday, Salam’s media office said reports alleging that he was aware of the arrival of a ship carrying chemical materials to Beirut were “false and bare of truth."

Lebanese call for an uprising after protests rocked Beirut

Some Lebanese called on Sunday for a sustained uprising to topple their leaders amid public fury over this week's devastating explosion in Beirut, as the country's top Christian Maronite cleric said the cabinet should resign.

Christian Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai said the cabinet should resign if it cannot 'change the way it governs'. 'The resignation of an MP or a minister is not enough (..) the whole government should resign if it is unable to help the country recover,' he said in his Sunday sermon, via Reuters.

Dozens of people were injured in Saturday's protests, the biggest since October when thousands of people took to the streets in protests against corruption, bad governance and mismanagement. About 10,000 people gathered at Martyrs' Square, which was transformed into a battle zone in the evening between police and protesters who tried to break down a barrier along a road leading to parliament.

Demonstrators defied dozens of teargas canisters fired at them and hurled stones and firecrackers at riot police, some of whom were carried away to ambulances. One policeman was killed. The Red Cross said it had treated 117 people for injuries on the scene on Saturday while another 55 were taken to hospital. Soldiers in vehicles mounted with machineguns were stationed beside Martyrs' Square on Sunday.

'People should sleep in the streets and demonstrate against the government until it falls,' said lawyer Maya Habli, as she surveyed the demolished port where the blast erupted.

'I worked in Kuwait for 15 years in sanitation to save money and build a gift shop in Lebanon and it was destroyed by the explosion,' said Maroun Shehadi. 'Nothing will change until our leaders just leave.'

The explosion gutted entire neighbourhoods. 'Look at this,' said Eli Yazbak, the manager of a fashion company whose 10-story headquarters was destroyed in the blast. 'This has set us back 50 years. We face crisis after crisis in Lebanon. It's time for the government to step down and let capable people run the country.'

Beirut

A picture taken on 9 August 2020, shows graffiti on the wall of a bridge overlooking the port of Beirut, the site of the explosion which killed at least 154 people and devastated swathes of the capital. (Photo by Anwar Amro/AFP)

France's Macron to host donor conference for blast-stricken Lebanon

More information on the donor meeting.

French President Emmanuel Macron will host US President Donald Trump and other political leaders on Sunday for a UN-endorsed donors' conference by video to raise emergency relief for Lebanon following this week's massive explosion in Beirut. Rebuilding Beirut could run into the billions of dollars.

Economists forecast the blast could wipe up to 25% off of the country's GDP. Many Lebanese are angry at the government's response and say the disaster highlighted the negligence of a corrupt political elite. Protesters stormed government ministries in Beirut and trashed the offices of the Association of Lebanese Banks on Saturday.

Macron visited Beirut on Thursday, the first world leader to do so after the explosion, and promised the Lebanese people humanitarian aid would come but that profound political reform was needed to resolve the country's problems and secure longer term support.

'I guarantee you, this (reconstruction) aid will not go to corrupt hands,' Macron told the throngs who greeted him. There has been an outpouring of sympathy for Lebanon from around the world this week and many countries have sent immediate humanitarian support such as a medical supplies, but there has been an absence of aid commitments so far. Trump will participate in the video-link conference.

'Everyone wants to help!' he tweeted. Germany will commit an additional 10 million euros ($11.79 million) in emergency aid on top of the rescue contributions already underway, its foreign minister said.

A Macron aide declined on Saturday to set a target for the conference. Emergency aid was needed for reconstruction, food aid, medical equipment and schools and hospitals, the official said. Representatives of Britain, the European Union, China, Russia, Egypt and Jordan are expected to join the conference, hosted by Macron from his summer retreat on the French Riviera. Israel and Iran will not take part, the Elysee Palace official said.

Lebanon information minister resigns

Lebanon's Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad announced on Sunday her resignation, citing the failure of the government to carry out reforms and the catastrophic explosion that rocked Beirut.

This news came as Lebanon's Christian Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai called on the cabinet to resign if it cannot 'change the way it governs' the country and help it to recover from Tuesday's catastrophic explosion.

Ammonium nitrate and the concern over US regulation of it

Ammonium nitrate, used by farmers as fertilizer, has been a key component of catastrophic industrial accidents and terrorism, including the 2013 blast at an agricultural-products retailer that killed 15 and injured 260 people in Texas, and the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168.

A 2020 Center for Public Integrity investigation found uneven oversight of the chemical in the United States, even after efforts to strengthen federal rules.

'I don’t know how I’m still here'

'I remember doing mundane stuff before the chain of events that led to the explosion: postponing a restaurant reservation, sketching out a story brewing in my mind, making plans for the weekend with my fiancee. Then I heard a roar, a rumbling crescendo that had my neighbors running out to the street, convinced that the long-expected Israeli attack on Lebanon had finally come. 

'I went outside onto my apartment’s balcony, scanning the sky for jets before glimpsing fires eating away at the port. I tweeted a video of the rising plume of smoke, scrambled down the stairs and fired up my motorcycle, heading toward the port to take a closer look.'

Then ... my memory goes dark.

Another personal story told from a survivor of the explosion.

Leaders to discuss international aid for Lebanon

Later today, Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, will join French President Emmanuel Macron and leaders/ministers from about 30 countries to discuss international support to Beirut and the Lebanese people.

Australian toddler names as youngest victim

In case you missed the earlier news, an Australian toddler, Isaac Oehlers, has been named as the youngest victim of Beirut port explosion that has killed 160 people.

"We are heartbroken a by the sudden and tragic loss of our beautiful boy," the family said in a statement. 

Lebanese policeman killed in clashes with demonstrators in Beirut - police

A Lebanese policeman was killed in clashes with demonstrators in central Beirut on Saturday, a police spokesman said.

The protests against the ruling political establishement have also left more than 100 people injured and dozens hospitalised. 

Protesters enter Lebanese foreign ministry, chant against ruling class

Dozens of protesters entered the premises of the Lebanese foreign ministry on Saturday chanting slogans against the government and political establishment, witnesses said, via Reuters.

The demonstrators also burned a portrait of President Michel Aoun.

"We are staying here. We call on the Lebanese people to occupy all the ministries," one demonstrator said on a megaphone.

Shooting heard at scene of demonstrations in central Beirut

Shooting was heard at the scene of the demonstrations in central Beirut against Lebanon's ruling elite and police confirmed to Reuters that bullets were fired.

Live coverage on local television stations showed several people who had were bloodied from rubber bullet shot as police used teargas to disperse protesters trying to break into parliament square.

A summary of the Beirut explosion aftermath

Here is a selection of some of the related stories that have been making the headlines over the last 24 hours:

- Hezbollah leader says group had no weapons at warehouse

- At least 43 Syrians reported to be among those killed in Beirut blast

- Michel Aoun and Boris Johnson agree to work on Lebanon's recovery

- Lebanon's Kataeb Party announced the resignation of its three lawmakers from parliament

- Wife of Dutch ambassador to Lebanon dies from blast injuries

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 157 people dead, dozens missing and thousands injured and homeless.

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