Beirut blast: Angry residents demand answers after the blast

People in Beirut have expressed anger at the government over what they say was negligence that led to Tuesday’s huge explosion.

President Michel Aoun said the explosion was caused by an unsafe storage of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate in a warehouse. Many have accused the authorities of corruption, negligence and mismanagement. The blast killed at least 135 people and injured more than 4,000. The two-week state of emergency has begun. “Beirut is crying, Beirut is screaming, people are hysterical and people are tired,” filmmaker Jude Chehab told the BBC, calling for the people responsible to face justice.

Chadia Elmeouchi Noun, a Beirut resident currently in hospital, said: “I’ve known all the time that we are led by incompetent people, incompetent government […] But I tell you something – what they have done now is absolutely criminal.” On Wednesday, the government announced that a number of Beirut port officials were placed under house arrest pending an investigation into the explosion. The country’s Supreme Defence Council insisted that those found responsible will face the “maximum punishment”.

What caused the explosion?

Ammonium nitrate – which is used in agriculture as a fertilizer and as an explosive – was in a warehouse in the port of Beirut in 2013 after it was unloaded from the named ship in 2013. Both the head of the Beirut port and the chief customs authority have told local media that they have written to the judiciary more than once, questioning whether to export or sell chemicals to ensure the port’s security. Port General Manager Hassan Kortem told OTV that when they were aware, a court first ordered storage in the warehouse, “but not to this degree”.

According to Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad, a house arrest will be imposed on “all port officials” who have been in charge of storing, protecting and documenting ammonium nitrate since June 2014. According to Shiprest.com, the ammonium nitrate arrived on a Moldovan-flagged ship. , Which entered the port of Beirut after encountering technical problems while sailing from Mozambique, Georgia, according to Shiprest.com, which deals with shipping-related legal cases.

Rhosus was inspected, leaving was prohibited, and some of its owners later left, sparking several legal claims. Its cargo was stored in a port warehouse for security reasons, the report said

What is the background?

The blast comes at a sensitive time for Lebanon. Hospitals are already struggling to cope with the rise of Kovid-19 infection. Now, they are facing the treatment of thousands of injured people. The country has been in the worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war, and street protests against the government have already escalated. People have to deal with daily power cuts, lack of safe drinking water and public health constraints.

Lebanon imports most of its food, and large quantities of grain stored in ports have been lost, leading to widespread food insecurity. The future of the port itself is in doubt due to the destruction.

President Aoun announced that the government would release 100 billion lira (£ 50.5m; $ 66m) in emergency funds, but the impact of the explosion on the economy is expected to be long-lasting.

The blast shortly after noon in front of a crowd of 2,000 people, including former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. A special court in the Netherlands on Friday sentenced four people accused of investigating the attack, but it has been postponed until August 18 to pay tribute to the victims of Tuesday’s blast.

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