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The Prime Minister decrees this day of national mourning and the High Council for Defense declares a state of disaster in the capital of Lebanon.
The balance of victims due to the two powerful explosions that shook the port area of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on Tuesday, has amounted to more than 100 deaths and more than 4,000 injuries, as confirmed by the Government. The health minister, Hamad Hasan, has confirmed the balance, as reported by the Lebanese newspaper An Nahar , while the Red Cross has published an alert asking for urgent blood donations to care for the wounded.The Beirut floor shook with the huge explosion that shook the port of Beirut in the middle of the afternoon . The governor initially reported that a pyrotechnic warehouse suffered a fire and then exploded, but with the passing of the hours it became clear that these were not just fireworks. The Interior Ministry elaborated on what happened, noting that “highly flammable material, including sodium nitrate” was kept in the warehouse, which was confiscated “years ago” from a ship and was being held.
The brutal explosion caused a huge smoke fungus and an earthquake-like tremor that caused serious damage to all areas near the port, a true “ground zero” that spread to the Ashrafiye, Gemayze and Mar Mekhayel neighbourhoods of the center of the city. The scenes were reminiscent of those from the years when violence was queen in Beirut.Destruction and ambulances flying with sirens at full volume to attend to the wounded. The hospitals asked the Lebanese to come to donate blood, while the rescue services multiplied by the destroyed blocks of houses to try to rescue the neighbours.
Among the wounded are some members of the United Nations Peace Force in Lebanon (FINUL). “As a result of the large explosion that shook the port of Beirut this afternoon, one of the ships of the UNIFIL maritime force docked in the port was damaged, leaving some of the blue hulls injured, some of them seriously,” said the FINUL in a statement, without giving a figure. Sources close to UNIFIL confirmed to Efe that none of the Spanish blue helmets that are part of this mission have been injured by the explosion. About 600 Spanish military personnel are in Lebanon with UNIFIL, a force that has been deployed since 2006 in the south of the country by virtue of UN Security Council resolution 1,701 that ended the war between Israel and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.
As night fell, overcrowding in medical centers forced ambulances to take victims to hospitals outside of Beirut. Given the gravity, the presidency deployed the Army to “deal with the consequences of the great explosion” and “carry out patrols in the disaster areas to maintain security.” The head of state, Michel Aoun, also appealed to the unaffected population to open the doors and welcome those who lost their homes, while asking the Ministry of Health to offer free treatment to the wounded.
In turn, the news from neighboring Israel opened with the news. Defense Minister Gaby Ashkenazi told national television that they had nothing to do with it and pointed out that “it is probably an accident.” Also from the Hezbollah Shiite militia party they denied any involvement. The strong tension between the two enemies made the alarms on the origin of the explosion go off at first.Last week there was an incident on the Blue Line that divides Lebanon from Israel and since then troops have been on high alert. Tel Aviv then accused enemy militiamen of penetrating 20 meters into its territory to attack positions, Hezbollah denied it.
Foreign media such as the BBC also recalled that the event occurred at a delicate moment for the country, just before hearing the verdict of the trial on the murder of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. The UN court is expected to issue on Friday his verdict on the four suspects in the car bomb attack.Lebanon has suffered strong social protests for months and the economic situation is very delicate, with the national currency in free fall against the dollar. The loss of the port will be one more problem for some authorities, unable to cope with the crisis since it is the main gateway to the country. The peaceful and independent mobilizations of parties and sects began on October 17 after the government announced its intention to apply a fee to calls for Internet messaging services such as WhatsApp, a measure that it had to withdraw due to general anger. That was the spark that two weeks later brought down the Executive of Saad Hariri. Since then, Lebanon has been living in permanent political instability. The High Council for Defense has held an emergency meeting to address the situation in which it has decided to declare a state of disaster in the city and to recommend to the Government the declaration of a state of emergency, as reported by the Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star. Following the meeting, President Michel Aoun has called for a two-week state of emergency and announced three days of national mourning and the release of funds to deal with the situation, including handing over money to hospitals. and the payment of compensation.
He also stressed that an investigative committee must deliver the conclusions regarding the causes of the disaster within a period of five days and has announced the creation of a crisis cell to address the repercussions of what happened, as confirmed by the Presidency through from a series of messages on Twitter.Aoun has also ordered the Ministry of Health to guarantee support to the families of the victims of the explosion, which has caused material damage in the Baabda Palace, which houses the headquarters of the Presidency.
Videos circulating on social networks show an explosion and a large column of smoke in the area, prior to a second explosion of greater power that has caused enormous material damage in the surroundings, reaching to be heard in Tire and Sidon. International aidThe US State Department has stressed that it is “closely following” the information and “working closely with local authorities to determine if there are affected US citizens.””We extend our deep condolences to all those affected and we are ready to deliver all possible aid,” said a spokesman for the Department, as reported by the American television channel CNN. In addition, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has stressed that the US Presidency “is monitoring the situation.”For his part, the Foreign Minister of Iran, Mohamad Yavad Zarif, stressed that “as always, Iran is fully prepared to deliver aid in any way necessary.” “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the great and resilient people of Lebanon,” he said through a message on his Twitter account. “Stay strong, Lebanon,” he added, along with a black heart and the country’s flag.
To the messages of condolences has been added the High Representative of the European Union for Common Foreign Policy and Security, Josep Borrell, who has shown the “full solidarity” of the bloc with Lebanon after the “violent explosions” in Beirut.The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, has conveyed to the Lebanese population “his brotherly solidarity”. «France is next to Lebanon. Always. French aid and media are on the way to the area, “he stressed.
Watch the Viral Twitter Video below …
A lot of reports that the explosion just now in #Beirut #Lebanon, was from fireworks depot. My initial thoughts, based on nature of explosion, past intelligence and secondary blast, is entirely possible this was weapons (probably Hezbollah) storage facility. pic.twitter.com/OSuIW3IxkQ
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) August 4, 2020
Source: La voz de Galicia