The death toll of August 4 devastating explosion in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, has exceeded 200, according to officials.
Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud said dozens were still missing, many of them foreign workers.
On August 9, there was a second night of violence in Beirut, as police clashed with protesters angry with the government’s response to the disaster.
The resignation of three members of the cabinet, including the justice minister on August 10, has not quelled the fury.
Fresh protests have been called for August 10 when PM Hassan Diab is due to chair a cabinet meeting.
PM Diab has said the blast was the result of the detonation of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been stored unsafely at Beirut’s port for six years.
The decision to keep so much hazardous material in a warehouse near the city center has been met with disbelief by many Lebanese, who have long accused the political elite of corruption, neglect and mismanagement.
Marwan Abboud was quoted by the al-Marsad Online news website as saying the death toll from the explosion had risen to 220, and that 110 people remained missing.
The governor told the Al Jadeed TV channel that many foreign workers and lorry drivers were among the missing, which he said had made identifying them more difficult.
The Lebanese army, meanwhile, said it was calling off the rescue phase of the search operation at the port because no survivors had been found.
Elsewhere in Beirut, hundreds of thousands of people are living in severely damaged homes, many without windows or doors.
Officials have estimated that the explosion caused more than $3 billion of damage and that Lebanon’s collective economic losses may amount to $15 billion.
Lebanon was already suffering a major economic downturn before the explosion, with families pushed into poverty and hunger, and UN agencies have warned of a humanitarian crisis unless food and medical aid are delivered swiftly.
International donors pledged $297 million in aid for Lebanon at a virtual summit on August 9 hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.
A joint statement underscored their concerns about corruption, saying that the assistance should be “directly delivered to the Lebanese population, with utmost efficiency and transparency”.
The donors said further assistance was dependent on Lebanese authorities fully committing to “timely measures and reforms expected by the Lebanese people”.
On August 9, world leaders will hold talks to raise aid for Beirut, five days after the massive explosion which devastated the Lebanese capital.
The virtual conference – set up by France and the United Nations – starts at 14:00 Lebanon time.
President Donald Trump has said he plans to join the call.
Officials estimate the explosion at the warehouse, which stored 2,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, caused up to $15 billion in damage.
The blast left at least 158 people dead, 5,000 injured and 300,000 homeless.
On August 8, thousands of people protested in Beirut. Police fired tear gas at stone-throwing protesters and some demonstrators storming government ministries.
In a TV address, Lebanese PM Hassan Diab said he would ask for early elections as a way out of the crisis. The issue will be discussed in cabinet on August 10.
Lebanon was already mired in a deep economic crisis and struggling to tackle the coronavirus pandemic before the explosion tore through Beirut.
An anti-government protest movement erupted last October, fuelled by the financial situation and a collapsing currency.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron visited Beirut on August 6, and announced he wanted to co-ordinate international aid for Lebanon.
A statement from France’s presidential palace says August 9 conference “will aim to mobilize Lebanon’s main international partners and to organize and co-ordinate emergency support from the international community”.
Representatives from EU member states, the UK, Russia, China, Egypt and Jordan will all take part, with many others invited to attend.
In a series of tweets, President Trump said he had discussed the “catastrophic event” in Beirut with President Macron and would himself join the call.
He tweeted: “We will be having a conference call on Sunday with President Macron, leaders of Lebanon, and leaders from various other parts of the world. Everyone wants to help!”
A number of countries have already pledged millions of dollars worth of aid and sent ships, health workers and materiel to assist Beirut.
However, UN agencies have called for more help and warned about the massive challenge ahead. Many homes are without water or electricity, there are growing worries about food shortages, and cases of Covid-19 are spiking in the country – an additional challenge for hospitals which are already overwhelmed.
Rescue teams in Lebanon are searching rubble for dozens of people missing a day after a huge explosion devastated the port area of the capital, Beirut.
The explosion, which shook the whole city, killed at least 113 people and injured more than 4,000 others. A two-week state of emergency has been declared.
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said the blast was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in a warehouse.
All port officials have been put under house arrest pending an investigation.
According to local media, customs chief Badri Daher claims his agency had repeatedly called for the ammonium nitrate to be removed, but “this did not happen, and we leave it to the experts to determine the reasons”.
Ammonium nitrate is used as a fertilizer in agriculture and as an explosive.
Opening an emergency cabinet meeting, President Aoun said: “No words can describe the horror that has hit Beirut last night, turning it into a disaster-stricken city.”
The blast occurred just after 18:00 on August 4 after a fire at the port, and it was felt 150 miles away on the island of Cyprus, in the eastern Mediterranean.
Security forces have sealed off a wide area around the blast site, and rescuer workers have been looking for bodies and survivors under rubble while boats searched the waters off the coast.
However, the overnight rescue effort was hampered by a lack of electricity.
Public Health Minister Hamad Hassan said the country’s health sector was short of beds and lacked the equipment necessary to treat the injured and care for patients in critical condition.
He said a “large number of children” had been rescued but added that he feared that the number of dead would rise further.
The Saint Georges hospital near the site of the blast was badly damaged and several members of staff were killed. Three Beirut hospitals were closed with two others only partially operational, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. The WHO said it would airlift medical supplies to Lebanon on August 5.
Three French planes are due to arrive carrying 55 rescuers, medical equipment and a mobile clinic equipped to treat 500 people. French President Emmanuel Macron will visit on August 6. The EU is sending 100 firefighters with vehicles, dogs and equipment. Russia is sending five planes carrying rescuers, doctors and equipment.
According to Beirut’s governor Marwan Aboud, many buildings and homes have been reduced to an uninhabitable mess of glass and as many as 300,000 people have been left homeless.
The ammonium nitrate had reportedly been in a warehouse in Beirut port for six years after it was unloaded from a ship impounded at the port in 2013.
The head of Beirut port and the head of the customs authority both told local media that they had written to the judiciary several times asking that the chemical be exported or sold on to ensure port safety.
The port’s General Manager Hassan Koraytem told OTV that they had been aware that the material was dangerous when a court first ordered it stored in the warehouse, “but not to this degree”.
Lebanon’s Supreme Defense Council has vowed that those found responsible will face the “maximum punishment” possible.
The ammonium nitrate arrived on a Moldovan-flagged ship, the Rhosus, which entered Beirut port after suffering technical problems during its voyage from Georgia to Mozambique, according to Shiparrested.com, which deals with shipping-related legal cases.
The Rhosus was inspected, banned from leaving and was shortly afterwards abandoned by its owners, sparking several legal claims. Its cargo was then removed and stored in a port warehouse for safety reasons, the report said.
At least 27 people have been killed and more than 2,500 injured in a large blast in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, the health minister says.
It is not yet clear what caused the explosion in the port region. Videos posted online showed a column of smoke followed by a large mushroom cloud.
Hospitals are said to be overwhelmed and many buildings have been destroyed.
According to Lebanon’s internal security chief, the blast happened in an area housing highly explosive materials.
The explosion comes at a sensitive time for Lebanon, with an economic crisis reigniting old divisions. Tensions are also high ahead of August 7 verdict in a trial over the killing of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.
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