Beirut explosion: death toll rises to 135, Vietnam sends condolences

The death toll from the massive explosion in Beirut has risen to 135, with some 5,000 wounded and tens still missing. Around half of the city had been damaged by the explosion, amid warnings that the death toll was likely to raise far be.
August 06, 2020 | 09:08
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Smoke rises from an explosion site at the port of Beirut, Lebanon, on August 4. Photo: VCG

The death toll from the massive explosion in Beirut has risen to 135, with some 5,000 wounded and tens still missing, Lebanon's health minister told Al Manar television.

Around half of the city had been damaged by the explosion, amid warnings that the death toll was likely to raise far beyond 100, with many victims still trapped under rubble, Telegraph reported.

It also emerged on August 5 afternoon that 85 percent of grain stocks in Lebanon, which relies heavily on food imports, were destroyed. This would suggest the country only has enough grain to last for another month.

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People inspect their car that was damaged in the massive explosion in the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: AP

Beirut's governor told Al Hadath TV that collective losses after Beirut's blast may reach USD10bn to USD15bn, with the governor explaining the number includes both direct and indirect losses related to business.

The Lebanese government announced it would be placing all those it held responsible for the port of Beirut under house arrest while their investigation continues.

Smoke continued to rise over the flattened port area, while in the city some people were still searching for missing loved ones. At least 5,000 people were wounded, overwhelming hospitals.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. Officials linked the blast to some 2,750 tonnes of confiscated ammonium nitrate that were being stored in a warehouse at the port for six years.

The orange cloud that towered over the city following the blast was indicative of nitrate explosions, experts said, and suggested the release of toxic nitrogen dioxide into the air.

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A general view shows the damage at the site of the blast in Beirut's port area, Lebanon. Photo: Reuters

It appeared to be the most powerful blast ever felt in this city despite it having endured the 1975-90 civil war, a 1983 suicide attack on the United States embassy that killed 63 people and a bombing of the peacekeepers headquarters in the same year, and a massive truck bomb in 2005 that killed its former prime minister.

Lebanon's cabinet declared a two-week state of emergency in the capital city and handed control of security in the capital to the military, Aljazeera said.

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woman stands inside her damaged home following the blast in Beirut's port area, Lebanon. Photo: Reuters

Global support over deadly Beirut blast

Emergency medical aid and pop-up field hospitals have been dispatched to Lebanon as the world offers its support and pays tribute to the victims of the huge explosion that devastated Beirut.

The United Nations is working closely with the authorities in Lebanon to support ongoing response in the aftermath of the massive explosion, UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters.

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More than 5,000 people are said to be wounded from the explosion. Photo: Al Jazeera

"The World Health Organization is working closely with the Lebanese Ministry of Health to conduct an assessment of hospital facilities in Beirut, their functionality and needs for additional support, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic", he said.

"Specialists are being dispatched to Beirut at the moment to assist in the emergency response, both from the United Nations and multiple Member States. Experts are en route to support urban search and rescue operations. Teams are also equipped to conduct rapid assessments about the situation on the ground and help coordinate emergency response activities."

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A man inspects the damage following the blast in Beirut's port area. Photo: Reuters

The World Bank Group also said it stands ready to assess Lebanon's damage and needs after a devastating Beirut port explosion and work with the country's partners to mobilise public and private financing for reconstruction and recovery.

The World Bank said in a statement that it "would be also willing to reprogram existing resources and explore additional financing to support rebuilding lives and livelihoods of people impacted by this disaster."

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Medics move an injured person from Najjar Hospital to another hospital in the Hamra area in Beirut. Photo: EPA

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a call with Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab reiterated "steadfast" commitment to assist the Lebanese people, the State Department said.

He "further stressed our solidarity with and support for the Lebanese people as they strive for the dignity, prosperity and security they deserve."

Meanwhile, many other countries like Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Russia and France have pledged to help Lebanon overcome consequences of the explosions./.

Vietnamese citizen was injured in the explosions in Beirut, Vietnamese Ambassador to Egypt and Lebanon Tran Thanh Cong confirmed.

According to the Vietnamese Embassy, the injured citizen is in a stable condition.

The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has ordered the embassy to continue its close watch on the situation, stay in touch with local authorities, and stand ready to conduct citizen protection measures if necessary.

Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong on August 5 expressed his condolences to Lebanese President Michel Aoun over the deadly blast.

Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang said at the ministry’s regular press conference in Hanoi on August 5 that “We were saddened to hear of the explosion in Beirut on August 4, which claimed many lives and wounded thousands.”

“Vietnam offers its deepest condolences to the State, Government and people of Lebanon and grieving families,” she said.

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