ENTERTAINMENT

Explosion in Beirut: Thousands protest a week after the explosions


Church bells rang and mosque speakers announced the call to prayer today as Beirut drove through the city a week after a terrible explosion.

Thousands marched near the destroyed port and at 6:08 p.m. a minute's silence was observed. Last Tuesday, thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate exploded, killing 171, wounding more than 6,000 and destroying 300,000 homes.

Hundreds of people marched through the streets of the badly affected Gemayze district, carrying portraits of the dead in front of a candlelight vigil after dark near the port.

"He knew," read a poster with a picture of President Michel Aoun.

Protesters take part in protests near the explosion site in the port area of ​​Beirut, Lebanon, on August 11, 2020

A nun reacts to the victims of a massive explosion during a vigil in Beirut, Lebanon, on Aug. 11, 2020

A nun reacts to the victims of a massive explosion during a vigil in Beirut, Lebanon, on Aug. 11, 2020

A woman reacts to the victims of a massive explosion during a vigil in Beirut, Lebanon, on Aug. 11, 2020

A woman reacts to the victims of a massive explosion during a vigil in Beirut, Lebanon, on Aug. 11, 2020

Aoun, who has been in office since 2016, said Friday that he was first informed of the dangerous stock almost three weeks ago and immediately ordered the military and security authorities "to do what was necessary". But he suggested that his responsibility ended there, saying he had no authority over the port.

“I'm very angry, I'm angry, I'm angry, I'm sad. I'm hopeless, ”said Anthony Semaan in his twenties, who said he had come to show respect to the victims.

Like others, he said that the government's resignation made no difference.

“First of all, there are questions that need to be answered. And second, there are other rats that need to be overthrown first, and when they are overthrown maybe we can start thinking about the future, ”he added.

Young people carried placards, each with the names of a dead person in red and green cedar, the national symbol of Lebanon, and sat on stairs in the Gemayze district opposite the port. The dead were buried elsewhere in the city.

A Lebanese man plays a damaged piano in a destroyed traditional house in the capital, Beirut, on August 11, 2020 after a large chemical explosion devastated large parts of the city

A Lebanese man plays a damaged piano in a destroyed traditional house in the capital, Beirut, on August 11, 2020 after a large chemical explosion devastated large parts of the city

People take part in a vigil for the victims of a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, on August 11, 2020

People take part in a vigil for the victims of a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, on August 11, 2020

The explosion fueled outrage among political leaders and security agencies and led to the government's resignation on Monday. After the disaster, documents emerged showing that senior Lebanese officials were aware of the existence of the stocks in the heart of Beirut near residential areas and did nothing about it.

Aoun later promised "to all Lebanese in pain that I will not be silent or rest until the facts become known". In his tweet, he said referring the case to the Supreme Judicial Council was just the first step.

It was still not clear what caused the fire in a port warehouse that set off the chemical explosion, creating a shock wave so strong that it could be felt over 200 kilometers as far as the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean.

"From one minute to the next, the world has changed for the people of Beirut," said Basma Tabaja, deputy head of the International Committee of the Red Cross Delegation in Lebanon. The organization said

The outgoing Health Minister Hamad Hassan said a total of 171 people were killed in the explosion and 30 to 40 were still missing. Of the injured, 1,500 needed special treatment while 120 remain in intensive care, he said.

The explosion damaged thousands of homes and offices in the capital. It is in the midst of an unprecedented economic and financial crisis that the country has faced since late last year.

David Beasley, head of the UN Food Agency, who said the day before that he was "very, very concerned" that Lebanon might run out of bread in about two and a half weeks, told The Associated Press that the World Food Program is looking at all possible options for Safe there are no disruptions in the food supply.

A Lebanese youth wrapped in the national flag looks at the damaged grain silos in the port of Beirut, where a large chemical explosion devastated large parts of the capital on August 11, 2020

A Lebanese youth wrapped in the national flag looks at the damaged grain silos in the port of Beirut, where a large chemical explosion devastated large parts of the capital on August 11, 2020

A protester throws stones during protests ignited by a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, on August 11, 2020

A protester throws stones during protests ignited by a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, on August 11, 2020

People gather near the devastated port area to commemorate the victims of the explosion that occurred in Beirut, Lebanon, just a week earlier on August 11th

People gather near the devastated port area to commemorate the victims of the explosion that occurred in Beirut, Lebanon, just a week earlier on August 11th

“We're looking at the port of Tripoli. We're looking at all other options, food transportation, and food shipping and food flight in, whatever it takes, ”Beasley said. "Of course we want to get the port up and running as soon as possible because it's the cheapest way to feed most of the people."

Meanwhile, efforts to form a new government began the day after Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned. His government, supported by the militant group Hezbollah and its allies, disbanded after the deadly explosion. Three ministers announced that they would resign.

His government was formed after his predecessor Saad Hariri resigned in October in response to anti-government demonstrations over endemic corruption. It took months for the leadership factions to quarrel before choosing Diab.

The Lebanese have called for an independent cabinet that is not supported by any of the political parties they blame for the chaos. Many are also calling for an independent investigation into the port explosion, saying they have no confidence in a local investigation.

People gather near the destroyed port area to commemorate the victims of the explosion that took place just a week earlier in Beirut, Lebanon

People gather near the destroyed port area to commemorate the victims of the explosion that took place just a week earlier in Beirut, Lebanon

A view of the destruction in Beirut's port, where a huge chemical explosion devastated large parts of the Lebanese capital

A view of the destruction in Beirut's port, where a huge chemical explosion devastated large parts of the Lebanese capital

Protesters respond to protests near the explosion site in the port area of ​​Beirut, Lebanon, on August 11, 2020

Protesters respond to protests near the explosion site in the port area of ​​Beirut, Lebanon, on August 11, 2020

Lebanese officials have denied an international investigation. The government referred the case to the Supreme Judicial Council, Lebanon's supreme judicial authority, in its final decision before its resignation, which deals with crimes that violate national security and crimes of political and state security.

The state national news agency said that prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat would continue his work as attorney general after referring the case to the Supreme Judicial Council. NNA said the investigation is being continued by the military police and prosecutors, and the charges will later be brought to the investigator, who will be named by the outgoing attorney general.

The ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in fertilizers and explosives, came from a cargo ship called MV Rhosus that had traveled from Georgia to Mozambique in 2013. It made an unscheduled detour to Beirut, as the Russian shipowner was struggling with debts and debts hoped to make a little more money in Lebanon. The ship was unable to pay port dues and was reportedly leaking. It was confiscated.

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