Beirut explosions: 16 port employees arrested

Beirut explosions: 16 port employees arrested
A soldier walks at the devastated site of the explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday.(AP)
Beirut, Aug 7 (IANS/AP) | Publish Date: 8/7/2020 10:02:46 AM IST

Sixteen employees at the Port of Beirut have been arrested over the two deadly explosions in the Lebanese capital that claimed the lives of over 135 people and left thousands others injured, a top official announced.

On Thursday evening, Government Commissioner to the Military Tribunal Judge Fadi Akiki said that more than 18 people have been questioned so far, including port and customs officials as well as people in charge of maintenance at the hangar where explosive materials have been stored for years, Xinhua news agency reported.

Meanwhile, Beirut’s First Investigative Judge Ghassan Oueidat issued a decision prohibiting the travel of seven port officials.

Two huge explosions rocked the Port of Beirut on Tuesday evening, killing at least 137 people and injuring nearly 5,000 others, while causing massive damages in the city.

Primary information has revealed that ammonium nitrate stored since 2014 in the port’s warehouse No. 12 might have caused the explosions.

Also on Thursday, it was announced that Lebanon’s Port of Tripoli was ready to temporarily replace the Port of Beirut.

Ahmed Tamer, director of the Tripoli port, told Xinhua that it has completed all its preparations to receive the aid ships sent to Lebanon and the vessels that transport products and goods.

Meanwhile, Lebanon continued to receive foreign donations and support following the disaster.

Italy and Russia sent two aircraft with medical equipment while Jordan sent a medical team with a field hospital.

A medical team also arrived earlier in the day from Tunisia along with food products.

A Polish Airlines aircraft arrived carrying rescue teams to help the Lebanese Red Cross and Civil Defense teams in removing victims through the rubble.

The team brought trained dogs to help in rescuing missing people at Port of Beirut and in other areas.

Meanwhile, Turkey sent an aircraft carrying medicines, medical equipment and advanced machines that can be used in rescuing missing people through the rubble.

The Kuwaiti embassy in Lebanon handed over humanitarian assistance including medical equipment and food while it had sent a day earlier 35 tonnes of medicines and food products.

Germany has also sent a number of doctors and a team specialized in helping Lebanese Civil Defense teams in their rescue efforts.

Moreover, Egypt sent medical equipment while Iran sent a field hospital in addition to necessary medical materials.

The Lebanese army announced in a statement released earlier in the day that donations will be distributed among hospitals in cooperation with the health ministry.

UN wants independent probe

The UN human rights office is calling for an independent investigation into the Beirut explosion, insisting that “victims’ calls for accountability must be heard”.

  Spokesman Rupert Colville of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights cited the need for the international community to “step up” to help Lebanon with both a quick response and sustained engagement.

He said Lebanon is facing the “triple tragedy of a socio-economic crisis, COVID-19 and the ammonium nitrate explosion” that devastated the capital on Tuesday.

Colville also called for the poor and most vulnerable to be respected as Beirut and Lebanon rebuild, and urged Lebanese leaders to “overcome political stalemates and address the grievances of the population”.

That was an allusion to large protests that broke out in Lebanon in October. 


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