Domain Registration

LIVE: Lebanon rescue ops continue as blast death toll hits 137

  • August 06, 2020
  • Rescue operations continued as members of the Lebanese Red Cross, army soldiers and volunteers searched for people listed missing under the rubble in areas near the port.
  • Officials said the death toll from the explosion killing at least 137 people and injuring 5,000 more, was expected to rise.
  • Investigators in Lebanon probing the deadly blast that ripped across Beirut were focusing on possible negligence in the storage of tonnes of a highly explosive fertiliser in a waterfront warehouse, while the government ordered the house arrest of several port officials.
  • Lebanon’s cabinet declared a two-week state of emergency in the capital and handed control of security in the city to the military.

INTERACTIVE: Beirut explosion map

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, August 6

09:52 GMT – French President says Lebanon needs reforms or will suffer more

French President Emmanuel Macron said Lebanon was facing a political and economic crisis, and that it would continue to suffer unless it enacted reforms.

Macron was speaking to reporters in Beirut, after his plane touched down at the start of an official visit following Tuesday’s deadly warehouse explosion in the Lebanese capital.

Ahead of his arrival, an advisor to Macron said: “The aim of the president’s visit is to belie the idea that Lebanon is alone, sunk and about to disappear.

“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.”

Another source close to the president made clear Macron expected action from Lebanon’s leaders.    

09:47 GMT – EU Commission ready to help Lebanon with preferential trade

The European Commission is ready to help Lebanon with preferential trade and customs backing, the head of the EU executive said after a phone call with Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab.

“The Commission stood ready to explore how to boost our trade relations in this challenging time, in particular in the form of further preferential trade and customs facilitation,” Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.

She also offered the EU’s help in assessing Beirut’s reconstruction and Lebanon’s recovery, as well as support in discussions with international financial institutions to unlock further economic aid.

The 27-country bloc has deployed more than 100 firefighters, a military vessel for medical evacuation and activated its Copernicus Satellite mapping system to help assess the damage.

Plenary session of European Parliament

09:30 GMT – At least four Bangladeshis killed in Beirut blast

At least four Bangladeshis were killed and 80 others were wounded, Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Twenty-one Bangladesh Navy crewmen were among the injured, as a Bangladeshi naval ship at the Beirut port was damaged.

According to government data, around 150,000 Bangladeshis are currently working in the Mediterranean country.

09:19 GMT – Bangladesh to send food and medical aid

Bangladesh announced it was sending emergency food and medical aid to the Lebanese capital Beirut in the wake of a deadly explosion.

The country “has decided to send food items, medical equipment, and medical teams to Lebanon, Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The decision follows a Wednesday phone call in which Bangladeshi Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen expressed his condolences to his Lebanese counterpart Charbel Wehbe on the victims of Tuesday’s deadly blast.

09:11 GMT – Lebanon gives investigating committee four days to find culprits

The government of Lebanon has given an “investigative committee” four days to determine responsibility for the devastating explosion in Beirut port on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe told French radio.

“This morning, a decision was taken to create an investigative committee which in four days maximum must provide a detailed report on responsibility – how, who, what, where? There will be judicial decisions,” he told Europe 1 radio.    

“It is serious, and we take it seriously,” Wehbe said.

“Those responsible for this horrible crime of negligence will be punished by a committee of judges,” he added.

08:38 GMT – Lebanon’s financial capacity ‘very limited’, economy minister says after blast

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.

“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 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.

08:25 GMT – French presidency says Macron to go directly to disaster area          

A French presidential official said French President Emmanuel Macron will go directly to the port and meet Lebanese and French teams in the disaster area upon his arrival in Beirut.

Later in the day, Macron will head to the presidential palace for meetings with top officials. He will also meet with members of different political factions and civil society.

The French official said Macron’s trip is meant to show that Lebanon is not alone and to give the Lebanese people confidence. Macron has said his role is to show that he believes in the country.

Beiruit, Lebanon

08:18 GMT – Iraq to send oil aid to Lebanon

Iraq announced that it will send oil to Lebanon following a massive explosion earlier this week in the capital Beirut which left many dead and injured and caused widespread destruction.

A team led by Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail has arrived in Lebanon and has been received by Prime Minister Hassan Diab, said a statement by Iraq’s Oil Ministry.

Along with medical aid, oil aid will be made to Lebanon, and tankers carrying oil will leave for Beirut from Baghdad, the statement added.The tankers will pass through Syria.

08:03 GMT – Lebanon diaspora mobilises ‘financial bloodline’ in wake of blast

Lebanon’s diaspora, estimated at nearly three times the size of the tiny country’s population of five million, has stepped up to provide assistance following the massive explosion that laid waste to the capital Beirut.

Lebanese expats rushed to wire money to loved ones who lost their homes or were injured in the blast on Tuesday that killed at least 135 people, while others worked to create special funds to address the tragedy.

Read more here.

Lebanese diaspora

07:47 GMT – Turkish aid, search and rescue team arrives in Beirut

A Turkish military plane carrying aid and a search and rescue team arrived in Beirut, authorities announced.

Aid material prepared by the Turkish ministry of health, the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Turkish Red Crescent (Kizilay) was loaded on a plane from Ankara.

The aircraft was carrying 21 National Medical Rescue personnel, two emergency units, three tents, medicine and medical equipment, 10 AFAD personnel, equipment, a search and rescue vehicle, three Kizilay personnel, a search and rescue team and medical and humanitarian aid.

AFAD President Mehmet Gulluoglu said more aid and emergency medical doctors will be on their way to Beirut.

07:23 GMT – Rescue operation and search for the missing continue after blast

Rescue operations were continuing as Lebanon awaited assistance following the massive explosion that rocked Beirut port and left the city in devastation.

Members of the Lebanese Red Cross, army soldiers and volunteers were still searching for people listed missing under the rubble in areas near the port.

“I am waiting here, I am not moving. My brother works inside the port and we have not heard of him since the explosion took place,” screamed Fatima as she stood nearby.

Civil defence workers were also busy examining building structures amid concerns that some might collapse after they were affected by the blast.

07:06 GMT – One French death, 24 injured after Beirut blast

One Frenchman, architect Jean-Marc Bonfils, has died while a further 24 French people were injured in Tuesday’s massive warehouse explosion in Beirut, French government ministers have said.

Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot announced Bonfils’s death in a tweet. Junior foreign affairs minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne added that, of those injured, three had serious injuries.

06:41 GMT – France’s Macron leaves for Lebanon: presidency 

French President Emmanuel Macron left Paris for Lebanon on a first visit by a world leader to Beirut after the deadly port blast, the Elysee Palace said.    

Macron’s plane took off just before 0600 GMT and was scheduled to land in the devastated city at around 0900 GMT where the French president was to meet “all political actors” including President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab.

Macron will seek to rally urgent aid for Lebanon but is also expected to press for overdue reform in France’s ex-colony, just two days after the blast.

EU Leaders Summit in Brussels

06:01 GMT – Death toll from Beirut port blast rises to 137, says ministry

Lebanon’s ministry of health said that 137 people have been killed in the blast at Beirut’s port on Tuesday, while at least 5,000 others have been injured. 

Red Cross volunteers at the scene of the explosion said they expect the death toll to rise as searches continue at the port where dozens are still missing, especially among employees who were present at the time of the blast.

05:10 GMT – At least one US citizen killed, several injured in Beirut blast

The US Embassy in Beirut has reported that at least one American citizen was confirmed killed and several more were injured in the explosion at Beirut’s port.

“We offer our sincerest condolences to their loved ones and are working to provide the affected US citizens and their families all possible consular assistance. We are working closely with local authorities to determine if any additional US citizens were affected,” the US statement said.

The embassy says all of its employees are safe and accounted for, according to the AP news agency report.

04:48 GMT – France’s FM raises concerns about Lebanon’s food security

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has raised concerns about Lebanon’s food security, after the massive Beirut blast damaged a major silo that contains the country’s grain supply.

“There will also be a food need that is indispensable because of the grain silos that exploded,” he was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Le Drian also called on the international community to show solidarity with Lebanon, which was already reeling economically even before the disaster.

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to arrive in Beirut later on Thursday. 

04:23 GMT – Australia pledges $1.4m aid to Lebanon

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that his country is pledging an initial $2 million Australian dollars ($1.4m) to the relief effort and is considering more.

Morrison also told reporters on Thursday that the aid will be provided to the World Food Program and to the Red Cross for food, medical care and essential items.

04:02 GMT – More medical aid from Russia expected in Lebanon

Three Russian flights are scheduled to arrive in Beirut within the next 24 hours, carrying equipment for a coronavirus testing lab and protective gear, among other medical relief supplies for Lebanon.

Earlier, Russia flew in a mobile hospital, along with 50 emergency workers and medical personnel to help with the aftermath of the blast that killed at least 135 people and injured 5,000 others. 

03:30 GMT – Amnesty joins call for international probe of Beirut blast

Beirut, Lebanon

Amnesty International has called for an international investigation into the Beirut blast, saying that the probe should be “free from any potential domestic political interference” to ensure “truth, justice, and reparations for victims.”

“The horrific scenes in the aftermath of the explosion were devastating for a country already suffering under the strain of multiple crises,” Amnesty’s acting chief Julie Verhaar said in a statement.

The group also urged the international community to urgently increase humanitarian aid to Lebanon “at a time when the country was already struggling with the severe economic crisis, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.”

03:00 GMT – Without giving proof, Trump repeats claim about Lebanon attack

President Donald Trump has continued to suggest that the massive explosion that killed at least 135 people in Lebanon might have been a deliberate attack, even as officials in Lebanon and his own defense chief said it’s believed to have be an accident, AP news agency reported.

“How can you say accident if somebody left some terrible explosive-type devices and things around perhaps – perhaps it was that. Perhaps it was an attack,” Trump told reporters during a White House briefing.

“I don’t think anybody can say right now. We’re looking into it very strongly right now.”

Defence Secretary Mark Esper earlier contradicted the president, saying most people believe the explosion “was an accident, as reported.”

02:45 GMT – Hariri’s party wants international investigators to join probe

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement bloc in parliament has called for the participation of international experts in the probe of the massive blast in Beirut, according to Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr.

The block said it wants a “transparent judicial investigation” into the incident that killed at least 135 people and injured 5,000 others.

02:17 GMT – Disaster-stricken Beirut to welcome France’s Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron is set to arrive in Beirut on Thursday and will meet the country’s leaders following the deadly blast that killed at least 135 people and injured 5,000 others.

Macron had already spoken to Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun after the disaster, and has ordered the deployment of assistance to the country.

01:45 GMT – Rescuers continued to dig out survivors of Beirut explosion

Search and rescue workers, who are working around the clock in the Lebanese, capital, have dug out a child from under the rubble of the explosion, more than 24 hours after the incident.

A video circulating on social media showed rescuers frantically digging debris from the collapsed building as they tried to extract the survivor.

At least 135 people were killed and around 5,000 more were injured following the blast on Tuesday.

01:17 GMT – Parisians hold prayer vigil for victims of Beirut blast

Lebanese nationals living in Paris and other members of the public held a prayer vigil in the French capital to show solidarity with the victims of a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.

The crowd gathered on Wednesday night outside the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris.

Other images of the event showed people in tears as they mourn the victims of the disaster. At least 135 people were killed and around 5,000 more were injured following the blast on Tuesday afternoon. 

Lebanon - France

00:15 GMT – Germany sends aid, rescue teams to Lebanon

Germany dispatched rescue teams to help Lebanese authorities find survivors trapped beneath rubble in Beirut.

Teams from the German THW, the country’s emergency organisation, and International Search and Rescue Germany boarded a flight from Frankfurt on Wednesday evening destined for Beirut.

On board are search and rescue dogs, medical assessment teams, as well as 15 tonnes of equipment and tools, Timo Eilhard of the THW told Reuters News Agency.

Wednesday, August 5

23:11 GMT – 10 of 11 missing Filipino seafarers near Beirut blast site found safe

The Philippine Embassy in Lebanon reported that 10 of the 11 seafarers, who were initially reported missing following the massive blast in Beirut, have been found.

According to a statement from the Philippine government, the seafarers suffered minor injuries and are now being looked after their shipping company. One seafarer remains missing.

Earlier, the Philippine government reported at least two Filipino workers were killed and six others injured in the blast.

20:50 GMT – World Bank says ready to mobilise financing for Lebanon blast recovery

The World Bank Group said it stands ready to assess Lebanon’s damage and needs after a devastating Beirut port explosion and work with the country’s partners to mobilise public and private financing for reconstruction and recovery.

The World Bank said in a statement that it “would be also willing to reprogramme existing resources and explore additional financing to support rebuilding lives and livelihoods of people impacted by this disaster”. 

20:15 GMT – Support for hospitals and trauma response is a top priority: UN

The United Nations is working closely with the authorities in Lebanon to support continuing response in the aftermath of the massive explosion, UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters.

“The World Health Organization is working closely with the Lebanese Ministry of Health to conduct an assessment of hospital facilities in Beirut, their functionality and needs for additional support, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic”, he said.

“Specialists are being dispatched to Beirut at the moment to assist in the emergency response, both from the United Nations and multiple Member States. Experts are en route to support urban search and rescue operations. Teams are also equipped to conduct rapid assessments about the situation on the ground and help coordinate emergency response activities.”

Protective gloves are scattered on the ground at a damaged hospital following Tuesday's blast in Beirut, Lebanon August 5, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

19:12 GMT – Baghdad will provide fuel aid to Beirut

An Iraqi delegation headed by the Iraqi oil minister met the Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab, and informed him that Baghdad would provide fuel aid to Beirut, according to a statement by the Lebanese government.

Lebanese local media also said that an amount of wheat would arrive on Friday from Iraq as aid after the blast left the Lebanese capital short on wheat, according to the governor.

18:10 GMT – Explosion must be independently investigated: Amnesty International

Amnesty International called for an independent into Beirut’s deadly blast and urged the international community to increase humanitarian aid at this time.

Julie Verhaar, acting secretary-general of the UK-based rights group, said, “Whatever may have caused the explosion, including the possibility of a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely, Amnesty International is calling for an international mechanism to be promptly set up to investigate how this happened.

“Amnesty International also calls on the international community to urgently increase humanitarian aid to Lebanon at a time when the country was already struggling with the severe economic crisis, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.”

_____________________________________________________________

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the enormous explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

For other key developments related to the Beirut explosion from yesterday, August 5, click here

Article source: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/lebanon-orders-house-arrest-officials-beirut-blast-live-200805230752876.html

Related News

Search