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Beirut explosion: dozens dead, thousands injured and displaced, and what we know about the tragedy and the investigation

2020-08-07T15:19:20.389Z

Days after the explosion in Beirut, the number of critically injured and dead continues to rise. Investigations are advancing, while there is shock at reports that the…



The bride who survived the Beirut explosion speaks 3:00

(CNN) - A massive explosion shook the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Tuesday night, leaving dozens dead and thousands injured.

The explosion has been linked to a large supply of confiscated and potentially uninsured explosive material, stored in a warehouse at the city's port, near populated areas.

This is what we know so far from the ongoing investigation, the explosion and the devastation it left in the Lebanese capital.

  • In Beirut, Lebanon, shock turns to anger at warnings ignored before explosion
So was the explosion that shook Beirut 0:25

The explosion and the victims

On August 4 at 6:07 pm local time, an explosion shook Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The outbreak occurred in the city's port near the center, near highly populated areas and tourist spots.

Until Friday, authorities had reported 154 dead and more than 5,000 injured, according to the Lebanese state news agency NNA. Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan said that among the injured, 120 people are in critical condition.

Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud told reporters that the blast left an estimated damage of between $ 3 billion and $ 5 billion. Abboud told Jordan's state news channel Al Mamlaka that the blast left at least 300,000 people homeless, "unable to sleep at home."

The blast left a 124-meter diameter crater, as big as a soccer field, according to CNN analysis of a satellite image by Planet Labs Inc.

An ongoing investigation

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Friday that authorities are currently questioning 20 people, "but no one can be arrested and jailed before the investigation ends," Aoun said in another tweet.

This Thursday, at least 16 Beirut port employees were detained as part of an ongoing investigation into the explosion, the NNA reported.

The explosion has been linked to a large supply of confiscated and potentially uninsured explosive material, stored in a warehouse at the city's port, near populated areas.

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate, which is generally used as an agricultural fertilizer, had been stored for six years without security measures, "endangering the safety of citizens."

The President of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, asked the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, during his visit to Beirut this Thursday, aerial images of "the moment of the explosion in the port of Beirut", to rule out "external interference" in the explosion .

“There are two possibilities for what happened; whether as a result of negligence or external interference from a missile or a bomb, "Aoun said in a Twitter post on Friday.

“I personally asked the President of France to provide us with aerial photos so that we can determine if there are planes in the sky or missiles. If these photos are not available from the French, we will request them from other countries, "added Aoun in his tweet.

The president rejected calls from some former politicians and international NGOs demanding an international investigation into the explosion of the port. He added that the judiciary must be swift "because the delay in justice is injustice."

Aoun said he is also angry like the rest of the Lebanese after more than 150 people died in the Beirut blast. "Our goal today is to reveal the truth," he added.

Ignored warnings

Shock at the devastation caused by the massive explosion gave way to anger Thursday over reports that repeated warnings about the arsenal of dangerous chemicals were ignored.

Recently released documents suggest that various government agencies in Lebanon were informed about ammonium nitrate housed in a warehouse in the port of Beirut, including the Ministry of Justice.

The information adds to a growing body of evidence, including emails and public court documents, that officials had been notified of a shipment of thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate, described by a Russian analyst as a "floating bomb That is, linked to the catastrophic explosion on Tuesday in the coastal capital.

Authorities would know of arsenal linked to explosion in Beirut 1:11

Despite the Lebanese Prime Minister calling the storage of ammonium nitrate "unacceptable," documents obtained by CNN show that members of the Lebanese government and judiciary were informed of large quantities of the hazardous material stored there, and they may not have been able to safeguard it.

In 2013, a Russian-owned vessel MV Rhosus was detained in Beirut with a load of 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate, which is used in industrial agriculture and mining. The cargo was said to be destined for Mozambique, but the ship was stopped in Beirut due to financial difficulties.

Baroudi & Associates, who represented the crew of the Russian ship, released a statement on Wednesday saying that they sent letters in July 2014 to officials in the port of Beirut and to the Ministry of Transport "warning of the dangers of materials carried on the ship ».

They claim that they also received a letter that month "from the Director General of Land and Sea Transport informing us that he sent official letters to the Ministry of Justice asking them to do whatever is necessary to prevent the ship from sinking and exposing the port to the danger of its cargo." .

CNN has contacted the Lebanese Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Transport and the Port of Beirut for comment, but has received no response.

Despite the warnings, the cargo remained in port.

International support

After the explosion, several countries and international organizations have spoken out asking for aid and investigations for Beirut.

Governments around the world sent their condolences to Lebanon, while the President of the European Commission promised economic aid of $ 39 million for the country. The United States said it will send $ 15 million in humanitarian assistance in response to Lebanon in three C-17 transport planes.

European countries send aid: 24 French police officers will be sent to help identify victims in Beirut; an Italian Air Force plane will depart with humanitarian aid. Germany will send a unit of 50 rescue and recovery specialists and the United Kingdom will send aid, search and rescue experts.

Human Rights Watch called for an independent investigation with international experts into the Beirut explosion, and UNICEF said it would expand response and assistance to families affected by the explosion, and that nearly 80,000 children lost their homes and were displaced.

- With information from Katie Polglase, Mary Ilyushina, Mia Alberti, Ali Younes and Mitchell McCluskey of CNN. 

BeirutExplosion Beirut

Source: cnnespanol

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