Death Toll in Beirut Increases to 135, and This Number Is Not Final

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(— August 6, 2020) —  The Lebanese Minister of Health said that the number of people killed in the devastating explosion in the port of Beirut has increased to 135, and said that about 5,000 people were injured, the local television Al Manar TV reported. 

Minister Hamad Hasan said that a large number of people are still listed as missing and that the number of victims is not final, reports the BBC. The Lebanese government has declared a two-week state of emergency, giving the army full authority.

The government also announced that a number of officials in the port where the explosion took place would be placed under house arrest while an investigation is underway into how 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate has been stored for years.

“There are certainly more (victims) under the rubble and we are getting dozens of reports of the missing,” the Minister told reporters.

The chemical cache that apparently exploded was not supposed to be in Lebanon, but arrived there on a troubled freighter, The New York Times reports.

US President Donald Trump said last night that what happened “looks like a terrible attack” and that American generals told him that two strong explosions were caused by “some kind of bomb”, but he did not offer evidence for that, reported AFP.

Ambulances and equipment from field hospitals were sent to Lebanon, and the world offered other help and paid tribute to the victims of the big explosion that destroyed a large part of Beirut on Tuesday. More than 100 people have been killed in a major explosion in the main port of the country, which was already facing a crisis.

An ambulance arrived from Kuwait to the Lebanese capital on Wednesday morning, after the Lebanese Red Cross announced that about 4,000 people were injured in the explosion.

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab called on “friendly countries” to support his country, which is trying to cope with the worst economic crisis in decades and the coronary virus pandemic at the same time.

The Gulf countries were among the first to respond and Qatar announced it would send field hospitals given that the Lebanese health system is overloaded.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sent a message to his Lebanese counterpart that Tehran is “ready to offer medical assistance to help treat the injured.”

The King of Jordan Abdullah II also promised to send field hospitals, specialists, and medical staff.

The Netherlands has announced that 67 people, including doctors, police officers, and firefighters, are traveling to Beirut.

Close allies and traditional enemies have sent condolences – Iran and Saudi Arabia, countries that have long fought each other for influence in Lebanon.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his deepest condolences after the horrific explosions in Beirut, which injured some members of the UN peacekeeping force.

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, wished a speedy recovery to the injured, and the Vice President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum announced his condolences to the “beloved people of Lebanon” on Twitter, while Egypt expressed deep grief Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gate offered his condolences, stressing the importance of finding the truth about the blast. Syrian President Bashar Assad also sent his condolences to his Lebanese counterpart.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his country shares the grief of the Lebanese people.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the videos and photos from Beirut shocking, and French President Emanuel Macron posted a message on Arabic on Twitter that “France is on the side of Lebanon. Always.” His cabinet later announced that Macron would visit Lebanon, a former French protectorate, tomorrow.

Australia has announced it will provide $ 1.4 million in humanitarian support to Beirut, and Australian Foreign Minister Marisa Payne has announced that the money will be invested in the World Food Program and towards the Red Cross to provide food, medical care, and basic goods to the population, the AP reported.

An Australian was killed and the Australian Embassy was damaged in the explosion.

The European Union has hired a civil protection system to gather equipment and personnel to help Beirut. The EU will also help the Lebanese authorities to determine the extent of the damage.