Anti-government protests break out in Beirut after devastating blast

Anti-government protests break out in Beirut after devastating blast
The devastating blast caused huge anger of Lebanese people. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: Anti-government protesters in Lebanon clashed with security forces in capital Beirut on Thursday after a devastating blast shook the capital.

Officers deployed tear gas on dozens of people near the parliament building.

Demonstrators were angered by Tuesday’s massive and devastating blast, which officials say was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in the port since 2013.

Many in the country say government negligence led to the explosion, which injured about 5,000 people and killed at least 137.

The explosion destroyed entire districts in the capital, with businesses and homes reduced to rubble. Dozens of people are still unaccounted for.

16 people have been taken into custody as part of an investigation announced by the government this week, the state news agency says.

Two officials have resigned since the disaster. Lebanon’s ambassador to Jordan Tracy Chamoun stepped down on Thursday, while MP Marwan Hamadeh stepped down on Wednesday, saying the disaster showed the need for a change in leadership.

French President Emmanuel Macron also visited the city earlier on Thursday and said Lebanon needed to see “profound change” from authorities.

He also called for an international investigation into the blast.

This port was Lebanon’s lifeline to the whole world. Some 80% of the country’s grain came through it. The grain silos, which were built way back when, are teetering.

The ammonium nitrate – which is used as an explosive and a fertiliser – had been in a warehouse in the port unsafely for last six years after it was unloaded from a ship impounded in 2013.

The head of the port and the head of the customs authority said that they had written to the judiciary several times asking that the chemical be sold or exported on to ensure the safety of the port.

Hassan Koraytem, Port General Manager, told OTV they had been aware that the material was dangerous when a court first ordered it stored in the warehouse, “but not to this degree”.

According to Shiparrested.com, which deals with shipping-related legal cases, The ammonium nitrate arrived in the Lebanese port on a Moldovan-flagged ship, the Rhosus, which entered the port after suffering technical problems during its voyage from Georgia to M

The ship was inspected and later banned from leaving the port. Shortly afterwards, it was abandoned by its owners, sparking several legal claims. Its cargo was stored in a port warehouse for safety reasons since then.

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