French president surveyed damage and offered consolation to victims of Tuesday’s massive blast before local officials.
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 reported.
The Lebanese government has given an investigative committee probing the blast four days to determine responsibility for the explosion, Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe told French radio.
French President Emmanuel Macron offered France’s support for the Lebanese people on a visit to Beirut after the port blast, but said crisis-hit Lebanon would “continue to sink” unless its leaders carry out reforms.
Officials said the death toll from the explosion killing at least 157 people and injuring 5,000 others was expected to rise as search-and-rescue operations continued for people listed missing under the rubble in areas near the port.
Here are the latest updates:
At least four Filipinos were killed in the Beirut explosion and two others were in critical condition, according to the Philippines’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
A total of 31 Filipinos were injured in the blast, the office said.
A Beirut resident told Al Jazeera live on air why so many are furious with Lebanon’s authorities, after she lost four neighbours in Tuesday’s explosion.
“Our anger will only stop…if we see those b******* in prison,” she said.
Boris Prokoshev, the former captain of the ship that brought almost 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate to Beirut, said Lebanese authorities were “very well” aware of the dangers posed by the vessel’s cargo.
“It’s the government of Lebanon that brought about this situation,” Prokoshev told the Associated Press news agency from his home in the Krasnodar region of Russia.
His ship, the MV Rhosus, was not supposed to be in Lebanon at all, he said.
When it set sail from the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi, the ship was bound for the Mozambiquan port of Beira. But the Rhosus made a stop in Beirut to try to earn extra money by taking on several pieces of heavy machinery.
The machinery proved too heavy for the Rhosus, however, and the crew refused to take it on. And the ship was soon impounded by the Lebanese authorities for failing to pay port fees, and never left the port again.
“They knew very well that there was dangerous cargo there,” Prokoshev said. “In my opinion, they should have even paid him [the owner of the boat] to take the dangerous cargo, a real headache, out of the port. But they just arrested the ship instead.”
The European Union announced the release of 33 million euros in emergency aid to Lebanon to help cover the immediate needs of emergency services and hospitals in Beirut.
A donor conference is also planned to mobilise additional funding for reconstruction after an assessment of what is required, an EU source told AFP news agency.
Security forces fired tear gas to disperse dozens of anti-government protesters calling for the Lebanese government’s resignation near the parliament building in Beirut.
The state-run National News Agency (NNA) said protesters set fires, vandalised stores and threw stones at security forces, prompting the officers to use tear gas.
Several people were wounded in the clashes, the agency said.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the deadly explosion at Beirut port. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.
Lebanon’s ambassador to Jordan has announced her resignation, following a cataclysmic blast that ravaged central Beirut, saying “total negligence” by the country’s authorities signalled the need for a leadership change.
It is the second resignation by a Lebanese official since the explosion that wounded at least 5,000 and destroyed entire districts of the capital.
#Lebanon's ambassador to Jordan, Tracy Chamoun, has resigned, saying she can no longer represent this state.
"The least that those in power can do today, after what happened, is to resign."
— Timour Azhari (@timourazhari) August 6, 2020
Italy’s foreign minister pledged an “international response” to help Lebanon. The country has already sent specialists, firefighters and over eight tonnes of humanitarian aid to Beirut.
“There will certainly be an international response and I am happy that countries like France are at the forefront in helping Lebanon,” Luigi Di Maio told AFP in an interview.
Lebanon’s central bank has instructed banks and financial institutions to extend exceptional dollar loans at zero interest to individuals and firms impacted by the Beirut port explosion.
Banks have since October frozen people out of their own savings accounts and blocked transfers abroad.
Under an April central bank circular, they now pay depositors with dollar accounts in cash in the local currency at a “market rate” well below that of the parallel market.
The central bank said the exceptional loans should be made, regardless of customer account limits, to individuals, private businesses, small- and medium-sized enterprises and corporations – with the exception of real estate developers – to carry out essential repairs to homes and businesses.
Mozambican port authorities denied any knowledge of the ship carrying the cargo of ammonium nitrate said to have caused the devastating explosion in Beirut.
They were reacting to widespread reports that the ammonium nitrate had arrived in Lebanon in 2013 on board a Moldovan-flagged ship sailing from Georgia and bound for the central port city of Beira.
“The port operator was not aware that the vessel MV Rhosus would dock at the port of Beira,” the Beira ports authority said in a statement.
It said that typically, the arrival of any ship at the port “is announced by the ship’s agent to the port operator seven to 15 days in advance”.
State news agency NNA has quoted Judge Fadi Akiki, a government representative at Lebanon’s 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.
Lebanon’s central bank has ordered a freeze on the accounts of the heads of Beirut port and Lebanese customs along with five others, according to a central bank directive seen by Reuters news agency and confirmed by the central bank.
The directive, dated August 6 and coming from the central bank special investigation commission for money laundering and terrorism fighting, said the decision would be circulated to all banks and financial institutions in Lebanon, the public prosecutor in the appeals court and the head of the banking authority.
Lebanese holders of Qatar residency permits who are currently in Lebanon and want to come back to Qatar will be granted exceptional entry permits, officials said.
They will be required to take a coronavirus test on their retun, Qatar’s Government Communications Office said in a statement.
Lebanese holders of Qatar residency permits will also be able to apply for entry for their immediate family members at the Qatar embassy in Beirut, the statement added.
— مكتب الاتصال الحكومي (@GCOQatar) August 6, 2020
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel have called for additional support for Lebanon.
“The dramatic incident will have major economic consequences for a country that was already facing many challenges, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the leaders said in a letter sent to the heads of state of the EU member states.
“We must keep in mind the strong partnership between the EU and Lebanon, a country of strategic importance which hosts the largest number of refugees per capita.”
Together with @eucopresident, we have sent today a letter to Member States urging them to support #Lebanon beyond its immediate needs in the current dramatic circumstances, also for its longer term reconstruction. We stand ready to help coordinate EU support. pic.twitter.com/2xrvV8ep5s
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) August 6, 2020
The United Nations has said it is releasing $9m to address immediate needs following the explosion that devastated Beirut and to help strengthen operations in the city’s hospitals.
UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the money from the Lebanon Humanitarian Fund will be followed by additional funds from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund.
He said the UN is carrying out assessments of the damage and needs that result from the massive explosion and hopes to hold a meeting on Monday to inform the 193 UN member states of the results and launch an appeal to help Lebanon.
#Lebanon and its people have always been generous in their support to refugees & the aid community. OCHA's @Insarag & UNDAC teams are in Beirut. My colleague @rochdi_najat has released $9 million to address urgent needs & support affected hospitals. https://t.co/GrQs5ga6Yy pic.twitter.com/qSLlD07n4V
— Mark Lowcock (@UNReliefChief) August 6, 2020
The International Monetary Fund has urged Lebanese officials to break an “impasse” and move ahead with reforms after a massive Beirut blast devastated the capital and cost the crisis-hit country billions in damages.
“It is essential to overcome the impasse in the discussions on critical reforms,” said the world body, which has been in talks with the Lebanese government since May over the country’s financial crisis.
The talks have since hit a wall, with the IMF urging authorities “to put in place a meaningful program to turn around the economy” following Tuesday’s explosion, which it called a “disaster.”
The United States military is sending shipments of water, food and medicine to Lebanon.
Deliveries of three C-17 military planes loaded with food, water and medical supplies are “impending,” a spokesman for US Army Central Command chief General Frank McKenzie has said, without stating when they would arrive.
McKenzie said the US was ready to continue providing assistance to the Lebanese during the “terrible tragedy” in partnership with the Lebanese army, the US embassy in Lebanon and the US Agency for International Development.
Lebanon needs to make key reforms to its electricity, banking, and customs sectors immediately “in an international framework,” French President Emmanuel Macron has said.
Macron warned that without reform and action against corruption, the country could start running out of fuel and food within months “and that will be the fault of those who refuse to act today.”
“There will be a before and an after August 4,” Macron said, adding that he sees hope for change in the “anger of the youth and the street”.
Lebanon hast recorded 255 new coronavirus cases – its highest single-day infection tally – after a monstrous blast upended a planned lockdown and sent thousands streaming into overflowing hospitals that were already struggling to cope with the coronavirus.
The health ministry figures were reported by the state-run National News Agency, which also announced two new deaths.
They bring the total number of COVID-19 infections in Lebanon to 4,604, including 70 deaths since the outbreak first began in February.
French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that an international aid conference for disaster-hit Lebanon would be held soon.
Speaking to journalists at the end of snap visit to Beirut, he said the conference would be held “in the coming days”.
He stressed that the aid raised during the conference would be channeled “directly to the people, the relief organisations and the teams that need it on the ground”.
Separately, the French leader stressed that an audit of the Lebanese central bank, among other changes, was needed in order to help the cash-strapped country, adding that the World Bank and United Nations would play a role in implementing 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,” he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said that an independent, transparent investigation into the massive explosion in Beirut is “owed to the victims and their families” by Lebanese authorities.
Angry crowds approached Macron and the Beirut governor as they walked through a blast-torn street, and through a devastated pharmacy.
After meeting with political leaders later, the French leader mentioned the “anger in the street” he had witnessed earlier.
He said: “There is a political, moral, economic and financial crisis that has lasted several months, several years. This implies strong political responsibility.”
He said he discussed addressing corruption and other needed reforms with Lebanon’s president and prime minister.
“I came here to show the support of the French nation for the Lebanese people,” Macron said, stressing the word “people”.
Denmark has pledged to donate 12 million kroner ($1.9m) to Lebanon, chiefly to be channeled via the Red Cross, and 600 chemical protection suits.
Development Minister Rasmus Prehn said Tuesday’s explosions in Beirut come “at the worst possible time” for Lebanon. “The country’s economy and health care are already completely on their knees,” he said.
“And COVID-19 just makes the situation worse. At the same time, the country is home to 1.5 million refugees who also need support.”
So far this year, Denmark has provided 32 million kroner ($5.1 million) in humanitarian aid to Lebanon, mainly to help refugees in the Middle Eastern country.
United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he was shocked by the blast in Beirut and that the UK would continue to focus on the needs of the people of Lebanon.
“I was absolutely appalled and shocked by the scenes from Lebanon, from Beirut,” Johnson said. “I am sure that the UK will continue to focus on the needs of the people of Lebanon.”
Italy has sent 8.5 tons of medical equipment to Lebanon in a second aid flight following the massive explosion in Beirut.
The foreign ministry said the flight left from Brindisi Thursday morning following a request from Lebanese authorities.
On board were surgical and trauma kits. Earlier, a team of firefighters and experts in chemical and biological agents flew in to help.
In a statement, the foreign ministry said the Italian assistance “represents a new show of friendship and solidarity toward the Lebanese people and authorities.”
Two Jordanian Air Force military aircraft are flying to Lebanon carrying material for a field hospital that’s expected to be set up within the next 24 hours in Beirut.
The military field hospital will be staffed by 160 medics and other staff and will include 45 beds, 10 intensive care beds and 2 surgery rooms.
China has announced that it will send a medical team and supplies to Lebanon in the aftermath of the port explosion that injured more than 5,000 people.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Thursday that Chinese leader Xi Jinping had conveyed a message of condolence to Lebanese President Michel Aoun following the blast.
“As a friendly country to Lebanon, China is willing to continue to provide assistance within its capacity for Lebanon to tide over the difficulties,” Wang told reporters at a daily briefing.
Germany’s foreign minister said that an employee of the German Embassy in Beirut was killed in the huge blast that devastated the Lebanese capital earlier this week.
Heiko Maas says in a statement that the woman died as a result of “the consequences of the explosion in her apartment.” He has offered his condolences to embassy staff. The embassy building was damaged in the blast.
Britain is sending a Royal Navy ship to Beirut to help the city recover from Tuesday’s devastating port explosion.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace says the survey vessel HMS Enterprise, currently in Cyprus, will assess damage and help Lebanese authorities prepare to rebuild the port.
Britain has pledged a 5 million pound ($6.6 million) humanitarian support package for Lebanon and says it will send search and rescue teams and expert medical support.
A French colonel leading a rescue team in Beirut’s port where Tuesday’s deadly explosion took place, said a group of seven or eight people might be alive but stuck under the rubble of a command centre buried by the explosion.
French President Emmanuel Macron toured Beirut’s shattered streets with crowds demanding the end to a “regime” of politicians they blame for corruption and dragging Lebanon into disaster.
“I see the emotion on your face, the sadness, the pain. This is why I’m here,” he told one group, 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 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.
One man told Macron: “We hope this aid will go to the Lebanese people not the corrupt leaders.”
"Help us. Please help us. What are you doing to help us?" pic.twitter.com/44upgNq54o
— Quentin Sommerville (@sommervilletv) August 6, 2020
Lebanon’s central bank 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.
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”.
Lebanon’s ministry of health said that the number of people killed in the blast at Beirut’s port reached 157, while 5,000 others have been injured.
Officials said the death toll was expected to rise as rescue operations at the port continue.
The shocking videos coming out of the Lebanese capital are grimly familiar to Tommy Muska as he sits thousands of miles away in the US state of Texas: a towering blast, a thundering explosion, and shock waves demolishing buildings with horrifying speed.
The mayor of West, Texas, lived through the same thing seven years ago when one of the deadliest fertiliser plant explosions in US history partly levelled his rural town. Muska has a feeling that, yet again, no lessons will be learned from this tragedy.
Read more here.
Lebanon’s leading Druze politician Walid Jumblatt called 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.”
French President Emmanuel Macron offered France’s support for the Lebanese people on a visit to Beirut after the port blast, but said crisis-hit Lebanon would “continue to sink” unless its leaders carry out reforms.
Macron said France’s solidarity with the Lebanese people was unconditional, but said he wanted to tell some “home truths” to political figures.
“Beyond the blast, we know the crisis here is serious, it involves the historic responsibility of leaders in place,” Macron told reporters.
“We can’t do without telling each other some home truths,” he added. “If reforms are not carried out, Lebanon will continue to sink.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Turkish Armed Forces aircraft which took off from Ankara with medical supplies, equipment and a Search & Rescue Team has landed in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, where the explosion occurred. https://t.co/su4MMcKyHp
— T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) August 5, 2020
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.
— Zeina Khodr (@ZeinakhodrAljaz) August 6, 2020
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.
L’architecte français Jean-Marc Bonfils est décédé dans la terrible catastrophe de Beyrouth. Je rends hommage à son œuvre majeure, telle la restauration d’immeubles patrimoniaux détruits par la guerre du Liban. La France et le Liban sont unis dans le chagrin de sa mort.
— Roselyne Bachelot (@R_Bachelot) August 5, 2020
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
Macron will travel to Lebanon Thursday, first world leader to visit #Beirut after blast “I will go to Beirut 2mw to bring Lebanese people a message of fraternity and solidarity from the French," Macron wrote on Twitter. “We will discuss situation with the political authorities.
— Zeina Khodr (@ZeinakhodrAljaz) August 5, 2020
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.
Some heartwarming news out of Lebanon amid all the tragedy. More than 24 hours after the #Beirut explosion, a young girl has been rescued from under the rubble.
— Sina Toossi (@SinaToossi) August 5, 2020
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.
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.
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.