Protests demanding the government’s resignation took place in Beirut amidst numerous casualties and destruction caused by the explosion at the port of the Lebanese capital, the Lebanese state news agency National News Agency (NNA) reports.
According to the NNA, demonstrators set fires, smashed shops and threw stones at law enforcement personnel. The police were forced to use tear gas.
At the same time, the authorities are investigating the causes and circumstances of the explosion. According to the NNA, Judge Faki Akiki said the investigation has taken 16 people into custody who may be responsible for what happened. The case is before the military court, a government spokesman said that the authorities have so far questioned about 20 port and customs officials and those responsible for repairs to the warehouse that may have caused the explosion.
As the Lebanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charles Wahbi, told French Radio, the Government gave a specially formed investigative committee four days to identify the persons to be held accountable.
Earlier, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Did said that all those responsible for the bombing would be found and brought to justice.
“What happened… will not go unpunished. Those responsible for this disaster will pay for it,” he said in a televised message.
Al Jazeera TV, citing officials, said the number of blast victims has reached 157, with more than 5,000 injured. At the same time, sources warn that the death toll will increase as debris and the ruins of buildings destroyed by the blast are cleared.
French President Emmanuelle Macron, who visited Beirut on Thursday, announced a conference to raise funds for the city’s reconstruction in the coming days.
“In the coming days (…) we will organize an international conference to help Beirut and the Lebanese people to raise international funding,” Makron said in Beirut.
He announced his initiative to mobilize aid for Lebanon upon arrival in Beirut: “We will help to organize additional assistance in the coming days at the French level, at the European level.
“I want to organize European cooperation and, more broadly, international cooperation,” the president explained his plans to help Lebanon.
As reported, 2.75 thousand tons of ammonium nitrate, stored there after confiscation by customs in 2014, exploded in the port of Beirut on Tuesday.