The Lebanese government has given an investigative committee probing the deadly blast that ripped across Beirut, four days to determine responsibility for the explosoin, Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe told French radio.
French President Emmanuel Macron offered France’s support for the Lebanese people on a visit to Beirut after the port blast, but said crisis-hit Lebanon would “continue to sink” unless its leaders carry out reforms.
Officials said the death toll from the explosion killing at least 157 people and injuring 5,000 others, was expected to rise as search and rescue operations continued for people listed missing under the rubble in areas near the port.
Thursday, August 6
18:20 GMT – IMF urges Lebanon to break reform ‘impasse’ after port disaster
The International Monetary Fund has urged Lebanese officials to break an “impasse” and move ahead with reforms after a massive Beirut blast devastated the capital and cost the crisis-hit country billions in damages.
“It is essential to overcome the impasse in the discussions on critical reforms,” said the world body, which has been in talks with the Lebanese government since May over the country’s financial crisis.
The talks have since hit a wall, with the IMF urging authorities “to put in place a meaningful program to turn around the economy” following Tuesday’s explosion, which it called a “disaster.”
18:05 GMT – US army to send supplies to blast-devastated Beirut
The US military is sending shipments of water, food and medicine to Lebanon.
Deliveries of three C-17 military planes loaded with food, water and medical supplies are “impending,” a spokesman for US Army Central Command chief General Frank McKenzie has said, without stating when they would arrive.
McKenzie said the US was ready to continue providing assistance to the Lebanese during the “terrible tragedy” in partnership with the Lebanese army, the US embassy in Lebanon and the US international aid agency, USAID.
17:50 GMT – Macron warns Lebanon reforms are needed within months
Lebanon needs to make key reforms to its electricity, banking, and customs sectors immediately “in an international framework,” French President Emmanuel Macron has said.
Macron warned that without reform and action against corruption, the country could start running out of fuel and food within months” and that will be the fault of those who refuse to act today.”
“There will be a before and an after August 4,” Macron said, adding that he sees hope for change in the “anger of the youth and the street.”
17:25 GMT – Lebanon coronavirus cases peak after deadly blast
Lebanon coronavirus cases peak after deadly blast
Lebanon hast recorded 255 new coronavirus cases – its highest single-day infection tally – after a monstrous blast upended a planned lockdown and sent thousands streaming into overflowing hospitals, already struggling to cope.
The health ministry figures were reported by the state-run National News Agency, which also announced two new deaths.
They bring the total number of COVID-19 infections in Lebanon to 4,604, including 70 deaths since the outbreak first began in February.
17:10 GMT – Macron: Aid conference for blast-hit Lebanon ‘in coming days’
French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that an international aid conference for disaster-hit Lebanon would be held soon.
Speaking to journalists at the end of snap visit to Beirut, he said the conference would be held “in the coming days”.
He stressed that the aid raised during the conference would be chaneled “directly to the people, the relief organisations and the teams that need it on the ground”.
Separately, the French leader stressed that an audit of the Lebanese central bank, among other changes, was needed in order to help the cash-strapped country, adding that the World Bank and UN would play a role in implementing reforms.
“If there is no audit of the central bank, in a few months there will be no more imports and then there will be lack of fuel and of food,” he said.
16:00 GMT – France’s Macron urges independent, transparent probe into blast
French President Emmanuel Macron has said that an independent, transparent investigation into the massive explosion in Beirut is “owed to the victims and their families” by Lebanese authorities.
Angry crowds approached Macron and the Beirut governor as they walked through a blast-torn street, and through a devastated pharmacy.
After meeting with political leaders later, the French leader mentioned the “anger in the street” he had witnessed earlier.
He said: “There is a political, moral, economic and financial crisis that has lasted several months, several years. This implies strong political responsibility.”
He said he discussed addressing corruption and other needed reforms with Lebanon’s president and prime minister.
“I came here to show the support of the French nation for the Lebanese people,” Macron said, stressing the word “people.”
15:30 GMT – Denmark to donate $1.9 million to Lebanon
Denmark has pledged to donate 12 million kroner ($1.9 million) to Lebanon, chiefly to be channeled via the Red Cross, and 600 chemical protection suits.
Development Minister Rasmus Prehn said Tuesday’s explosions in Beirut come “at the worst possible time” for Lebanon. “The country’s economy and health care are already completely on their knees,” he said.
“And COVID-19 just makes the situation worse. At the same time, the country is home to 1.5 million refugees who also need support.”
So far this year, Denmark has provided 32 million kroner ($5.1 million) in humanitarian aid to Lebanon, mainly to help refugees in the Middle Eastern country.
15:15 GMT – UK PM Johnson says: We will focus on the needs of Lebanese people
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was shocked by the blast in Beirut and that Britain would continue to focus on the needs of the people of Lebanon.
“I was absolutely apalled and shocked by the scenes from Lebanon, from Beirut,” Johnson said. “I am sure that the UK will continue to focus on the needs of the people of Lebanon.”
14:45 GMT – Italy sends second plane carrying medical equipment to Lebanon
Italy has sent 8.5 tons of medical equipment to Lebanon in a second aid flight following the massive explosion in Beirut.
The foreign ministry said the flight left from Brindisi Thursday morning following a request from Lebanese authorities.
On board were surgical and trauma kits. Earlier, a team of firefighters and experts in chemical and biological agents flew in to help.
In a statement, the foreign ministry said the Italian assistance “represents a new show of friendship and solidarity toward the Lebanese people and authorities.”
14:25 GMT – Jordan to build field hospital in Beirut within 24-hours
Two Jordanian Air Force military aircraft are flying to Lebanon carrying material for a field hospital that’s expected to be set up within the next 24 hours in Beirut.
The military field hospital will be staffed by 160 medics and other staff and will include 45 beds, 10 intensive care beds and 2 surgery rooms.