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Escalation in Beirut: demonstrators encounter riot police - another minister resigns

2020-08-10T03:25:39.382Z

A hunger crisis looms after the explosion in Beirut. The anger at the government erupts in street protests. The first cabinet members have now resigned.



A hunger crisis looms after the explosion in Beirut. The anger at the government erupts in street protests. The first cabinet members have now resigned.

  • After the devastating explosion in Beirut, Lebanon may face a famine disaster.
  • Germany is supporting the battered country with emergency aid amounting to 20 million euros. (Update from August 9, 7:09 p.m.)
  • The demonstrations in Lebanon escalated again on Sunday evening. Two ministers of the government in Beirut have since resigned (update from August 9, 9:28 p.m.).

Update from August 9, 9:28 p.m.: Beirut , the capital of Lebanon , has been downright destroyed in large parts after the devastating explosion last week. After massive protests in the population and discussions about a possible new election in Lebanon , a second minister has now submitted his resignation . After Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad, Environment Minister Damianos Kattar also resigned from office on Sunday, as the German Press Agency learned from government circles. It was unclear in the evening whether further cabinet members would resign.

The government of Lebanon is dissolved if more than a third of the 30 cabinet members resign. That would be the case if five other ministers resign. According to government circles, Prime Minister Hassan Diab tried on Sunday to prevent ministers from resigning before a cabinet meeting scheduled for Monday. At the meeting he wanted to propose a new election to the cabinet . The next parliamentary election would actually not be due until 2022.

More than 150 people were killed and 6,000 others injured in the severe explosion on Tuesday. The day before - on Monday - Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti had submitted his resignation. Sharbil Wihbi, the previous diplomatic advisor to President Michel Aoun, was appointed as his successor. Many Lebanese have lost faith in the government for good after the explosion, which may have been caused by gross negligence.

Escalation in Beirut: International donor conference provides more than 200 million euros in emergency aid

Update from August 9, 7:09 p.m.: Protests and demonstrations in Lebanon followed last week's devastating explosion in Beirut . In the streets, angry citizens called for a revolution. The government has already announced that it will vote on early elections . The crisis-ridden country is now receiving international support. According to Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD), more than 200 million euros in emergency aid were collected at the international donor conference for Lebanon . Germany is participating with an additional 20 million euros, Maas told ZDF on Sunday. As a co-organizer of the conference, the French presidential office initially did not provide a number for the commitments.

Update from August 9, 11:28 a.m.: After the devastating explosion last week in Beirut , Lebanon is now being shaken by protests and unrest. The people of the country are calling for a change in political direction. Due to the pressure, Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced yesterday that he would propose early elections . He would like to submit a corresponding bill to his cabinet on Monday .

But before there was a vote on new elections , the Lebanese Minister of Information Manal Abdel Samad resigned. "I apologize to all Lebanese who could not achieve their goals," Samad said on Lebanese television on Sunday. The minister went on to say that possible change for Lebanon is now out of reach.

She is the first cabinet member to resign since the explosion . Just one day before the disaster had Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti resigned from his position. As a justification, he cited the government's poor performance in trying to lead the country out of its severe economic and political crisis. 

Explosion in Beirut: Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas pledges aid

Update from August 8, 9:52 p.m .: Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) has announced an emergency aid package worth 10 million euros for Lebanon. "The people of Beirut need our help and they need reason to hope," said Maas.

The death toll after the severe explosion has now risen to 158, and more than 6,000 people are injured. According to information from Maas, around 300,000 people have also lost their homes. "Numbers like this stunned," he said.

Protests after the explosion in Beirut: Army vacates occupied foreign ministry

Update from August 8, 9:17 p.m .: After three hours, the Lebanese army ended the occupation of the Foreign Ministry , according to the police, a police officer was killed on the sidelines of the demonstrations . He fell fatally while trying to help people who were stuck in a hotel and attacked by demonstrators.

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Lebanon, Beirut: Molotov cocktails are thrown at Lebanese soldiers by demonstrators during a protest critical of the government.

© Hassan Ammar / AP / dpa

Update from August 8, 8:42 p.m.: According to the Lebanese Red Cross, more than 200 people were injured during the demonstrations on Saturday. The protesters stormed not only the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but also the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Economics and the Bank Association building , according to reports from local media .

“We've lost everything,” this man kept shouting at soldiers, after they attacked protesters. pic.twitter.com/swZoTYqtco

- Timour Azhari (@timourazhari) August 8, 2020

Fires can be seen again and again on video recordings from the city - eyewitnesses report chaotic scenes in the city, which has been so badly destroyed. Al-Jazeera correspondent Timour Azhari shows in live videos how soldiers hit him on the head while trying to film beatings against demonstrators.

Lebanese Army viciously beating protesters at Beirut's ring road. Was trying to film it and got hit in the head. Am fine. They tried to take my phone. No chance. pic.twitter.com/XBlGJKwmcr

- Timour Azhari (@timourazhari) August 8, 2020

He predicts a “hard night” in which security forces would already patrol the streets “empowered by the emergency, as if they were masters of the city.

Tense night in Beirut with an army empowered by the state of emergency roaming the streets like they own the place, waving around weapons, beating people with sticks, hitting and cursing them. pic.twitter.com/y6zGRjWjGI

- Timour Azhari (@timourazhari) August 8, 2020

In a live Twitter video, he shows footage from the occupied foreign ministry, which is attracting more and more people. "Beirut is a city without weapons" and "Beirut is the capital of the revolution" can be read on banners.

Live from Beirut's occupied foreign ministry https://t.co/cKvKagtTn6

- Timour Azhari (@timourazhari) August 8, 2020

After the explosions in Beirut: Prime Minister Hassan Diab announces new elections

Update from August 8, 7:22 p.m .: In response to the demonstrations in Beirut , the Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab has announced early elections. On Lebanese television, he announced that he would talk to his cabinet about new elections on Monday.

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Lebanon, Baabda: Hassan Diab (r), Prime Minister of Lebanon, wants to propose early elections to his cabinet after the devastating explosion in Beirut.

© Stringer / dpa

Update from August 8, 6:29 p.m .: In clashes between demonstrators and security forces in Beirut, at least 130 people were injured on Saturday afternoon, 28 of them had to be treated in hospitals. "Beirut is the capital of the revolution" says a banner that was hung by the demonstrators in the Foreign Ministry, as the Lebanese TV broadcaster MTV shows. Tear gas had also been used when protesters tried to break a barrier to parliament.

An international donor conference for Lebanon is to take place on Sunday at 2 p.m. US President Donald Trump, EU Council President Charles Michel and the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Janez Lenarcic will also take part in the video conference . The aim is to collect donations for humanitarian emergency aid .

After the explosion in Beirut: Protesters storm the foreign ministry and set up guillotines

Update from August 8, 6:13 p.m.: How much anger has built up against the Lebanese government is not only evident in the storming of the Foreign Ministry. On Saturday afternoon, demonstrators had already set up guillotines on Martyrs Square, and the hashtag #hangthem was used on social networks. The protesters held up pictures of the deceased and chanted “ revenge, revenge until the regime is overthrown ”. The police used tear gas against stone throwers.

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Lebanon, Beirut: Protesters walk through tear gas on Martyrs Square during a protest critical of the government after the deadly explosion in the port of the Lebanese capital.

© Hassan Ammar / AP / dpa

Update from August 8, 5:55 p.m .: During the demonstrations against the Lebanese government, demonstrators stormed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beirut. The protesters accuse the government of corruption and incompetence. They declared the Foreign Ministry building the " headquarters of the revolution ". Thousands of people had marched through the city streets by afternoon. The protesters who stormed the State Department are led by former army officers.

Explosion in Beirut: rescue workers shocked - demonstrations planned for Saturday

Update from August 8, 12:56 p.m .: Four days after the devastating explosions in Beirut, more than 60 people are still missing in the Lebanese capital . A health ministry representative spoke of 154 dead and more than 60 missing on Saturday . Rescue workers from Lebanon, Germany, France, Russia and many other countries continued to search the rubble for survivors.

Update from August 8th. 8.38 a.m.: Many victims of the disaster are to be buried in Beirut this Saturday . The most active have also called for demonstrations against the government in the afternoon , which they blame for the devastating detonation that left more than 150 dead . Rescue workers continue to search for victims in the rubble .

The German emergency services from the Technical Relief Organization (THW) on site were shocked by the extent of the destruction . “The buildings that stood here were real high-bay warehouses and large buildings, all of which are in ruins. This is really a dimension that is really breathtaking, ” said THW spokeswoman Georgia Pfleiderer from the DPA area on the phone. Her fifth THW assignment abroad is "the biggest thing I've seen in terms of the extent of the damage".

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An aerial view reveals the extent of the destruction caused by an explosion in Beirut.

© AFP

Disaster in Beirut: President Aoun senses "foreign interference"

Up to 250,000 people in Beirut are homeless . The explosion is said to have been triggered by a large amount of the highly explosive chemical ammonium nitrate , which, according to government information , had been stored in the port for years without safety precautions . President Michel Aoun told journalists on Friday that the investigation should investigate whether the explosion was caused by negligence . However, it should also be checked whether there might have been "foreign interference" by means of a rocket or bomb. So far, however, there are no signs of this.

The international police organization Interpol supports the local authorities with experts. Among other things, it is about the identification of victims, said Interpol on Friday evening in Lyon. EU Council President Charles Michel is also expected in Beirut on Saturday . There he wants to meet with Aoun , Prime Minister Hassan Diab and Parliament President Nabih Berri .

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On Tuesday, there was a serious explosion in the port of the Lebanese capital Beirut.

© Hussein Malla / AP / dpa

Explosion in Beirut: ammonium nitrate? Explosives expert doubts - even the president does not rule out an attack

Update from August 7, 2020, 5:04 p.m.: Three days after the devastating explosion in Beirut , Lebanese President Michel Aoun has now spoken out. The exact reasons for the accident are still unclear. He speaks of "negligence or external intervention" as the cause, as reported by the dpa . It should be quite possible that the explosions were triggered "by external influences, with a rocket or a bomb, " said the ruler in a TV interview on Friday. At the same time, however, it is also determined whether negligent behavior in the storage of highly explosive material could have occurred.

Was approached Aoun also on the ability to allow international investigators into the country. When asked whether he was against international investigations, the Lebanese president replied "of course". In his opinion, these would "water down the truth."

Shortly after the accident in the Lebanese capital , the US President speculated about a bomb attack . However, the withdrawal followed on Wednesday. The United States has now sent aid worth 15 million dollars (the equivalent of around 12.8 million euros) to Beirut . The state aid organization US-Aid said that the US Army is bringing food and medicine to the Mediterranean state.

Update from August 7, 2020, 2:43 p.m.: Explosives expert Wolfgang Spyra from the Brandenburg Technical University Cottbus makes you sit up and take notice. There is a high probability that the warehouse was not only exploded by ammonium nitrate. Because a black cloud can be seen on the recordings. "That would not be explained by ammonium nitrate alone, " said Spyra of the German press agency. “Maybe it was pyrotechnic articles that are stored there.” Both materials could have been ignited during welding work, for example.

The resulting explosion is comparable to a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, as the German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) in Potsdam explained. In contrast to an earthquake that tends to take place deep down, however, a large part of the energy was released into the atmosphere in Beirut . “It is the pressure wave that caused the damage - not the shock, ” explained Frederik Tilmann, head of the Seismology Section at GFZ.

Update from August 7, 2020, 1:55 p.m.: According to its own information, it hasthe Israeli army shot down a drone in the north of the country on Friday night. The military said that it penetrated the Israeli airspace on the so-called Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon in the area of ​​Mount Hermon . Soldiers are currently looking for the drone.

The neighboring countries are still officially at war . At the border, tensions between the Israeli army and the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah repeatedly occur, most recently intensified . After the explosion in the port of the Lebanese capital Beirut and a situation assessment, the general staff of the Israeli army decided on Thursday to maintain the strength of its troops in the north.

Israeli hospitals had offered Lebanon to treat injuries after the explosion . However, Lebanese government officials refused. Lebanese are banned from any contact with Israelis.

Update of August 7, 2020, 12.50 p.m .: Hezbollah ammonium nitrate warehouse in Germany too : Apparently there was also a warehouse in Germany with explosives like the one that has now exploded in Beirut . The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has confirmed this. It is said to have been located in southern Germany , but had already been dissolved by the security authorities in 2016.

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution is silent about the exact location - as well as possible further finds. "For reasons of protecting operational concerns of the German security authorities, no information can be given," zeit.de quotes corresponding sources.

Chaos in Beirut: Explosion causes large numbers of homeless people

Update from August 7, 2020, 12:35 p.m.: As the United Nations Relief Organization Unicef announced,80,000 children are homeless due to the severe explosion in the Lebanese capital Beirut . become. According to UN estimates, a total of 300,000 people are affected.

"Children who witnessed the explosion are traumatized and in shock," said Yukie Mokuo, country coordinator for Unicef ​​in Lebanon . Some girls and boys are still missing, Unicef ​​emphasized.

Twelve health facilities for child vaccinations and the supply of pregnant women are damaged. A hospital with an intensive care unit for newborns was destroyed . The other hospitals are completely overloaded and do not have enough medicines and relief supplies.

Update of August 7, 2020, 11:00 a.m .: As reported in the picture , a group of eleven firefighters was also killed in the explosion in the port of Beirut . Actually, they only came to put out a fire in a warehouse . A cell phone video shows the last moments before the explosion . On it you can see: the firemen trying to open a gate, dark, thick smoke, howling sirens and several small explosions can be heard.

Beirut after the explosion: demonstration stations near the parliament

First report from August 7, 2020: After the devastating accident in the Lebanese capital Beirut , clashes between angry demonstrators and security forces broke out on Thursday night , as the state news agency NNA reported. The demonstrators tried to get to parliament through barriers . There is also said to have been vandalism in shops and road blockades. Some protesters set fire to billboards, boards and heaps of rubbish.

They also threw stones and objects at security guards. The riot police used tear gas to force the demonstrators to Martyrs' Square. Several protesters were injured in the process.

There are now fears that the internal problems will worsen after the explosion in the port of Beirut *. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) warned of further destabilization of Lebanon and campaigned for a timely international donor conference.

Beirut explosion in the middle of the economic crisis: famine threatens

According to official Lebanese information , a fire in the port exploded 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate * , which were stored unsecured in a hall. At least 145 people died and more than 5,000 were injured. A two-week state of emergency was imposed on Beirut . The accident * happened in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the civil war. Protests against grievances and corruption had already taken place since October 2019.

The UN and other international actors are now warning of food shortages . A spokesman for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) told the AFP that there is a risk of "short-term problems with the availability of flour" in Lebanon .

Beirut explosion: port was the most important transshipment point

The reason for the fears: The enormous explosion destroyed a large part of the wheat reserves stored in the port of Beirut , as spokesman Dominique Burgeon said. "The supplies are badly damaged." The founder of the Lebanese non-governmental organization Food Blessed, Maya Terro , also fears bottlenecks . The port of Beirut was the most important transshipment point for imports, she told AFP. " Lebanon imports 80 percent of its food." After the explosions , she immediately thought of "empty supermarket shelves and increased prices due to bottlenecks". * Merkur.de is part of the nationwide Ippen-Digital editors network.

List of rubric lists: © Hussein Malla / dpa / AP

Source: merkur

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