Lebanese president promises transparent inquiry into Beirut blast

Lebanese president promises transparent inquiry into Beirut blast

Lebanon’s president said on Wednesday that an investigation into a powerful blast that rocked Beirut would reveal the circumstances of what happened as soon as possible, and that the results would be revealed transparently.

In a televised speech at the start of a cabinet meeting, Michel Aoun also appealed to other nations to speed up assistance to Lebanon, which was already grappling with an economic meltdown.

“We have compiled a list of aid and sent it to several countries,” Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan said. “We need everything to hospitalize the victims, and there is a acute shortage of everything.”

A huge blast at Beirut port that devastated entire neighborhoods of the city has killed more than 100 people and injured over 4,000, the Lebanese Red Cross said Wednesday.

President Michel Aoun said that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilizers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures, and he said that was “unacceptable.”

Officials did not say what caused the blaze that set off the blast. A security source and local media said it was started by welding work being carried out on a hole in the warehouse.

The blast revived memories of a 1975-90 civil war and its aftermath, when Lebanese endured heavy shelling, car bombings and Israeli air raids. Some residents thought an earthquake had struck.

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