More than 60 missing after Beirut mega-blast

  • Lebanese president says blast probe looking into possible “external interference” in addition to simple negligence or an accident.

  • Lebanese authorities have taken into custody 16 people as part of an investigation.

  • US President Donald Trump says he will join a conference call to discuss aid to Lebanon.

  • At least 154 people were killed in the explosion and more than 6,000 others injured, but numbers are expected to rise as search-and-rescue operations continue for missing people.
  • Saturday, August 8

    09:30 GMT – Wife of Dutch envoy to Lebanon dies after being hurt in Beirut blast

    The wife of the Dutch ambassador to Lebanon died on Saturday after being seriously injured in the massive explosion that tore through Beirut’s port, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said.

    Hedwig Waltmans-Molier, 55, was injured by the explosion as she stood next to her husband, ambassador Jan Waltmans, in the living room of their house in Beirut, the ministry said.

    Tuesday’s blast caused extensive damage to the Dutch embassy, injuring four other people connected to it.

    09:00 GMT – Turkey says it is ready to help rebuild port of Beirut

    Turkey is ready to help rebuild the port of Beirut, which was destroyed by a massive blast on Tuesday, Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay said during a visit to Lebanon.

    Turkey’s port of Mersin, on the Mediterranean, is ready to assist the port of Beirut, he said, without elaborating

    08:30 GMT – France’s Macron to co-host Lebanon donor conference

    French President Emmanuel Macron will host a donor conference for Lebanon via video-link on Sunday, his office said, as countries mobilise to help rebuild Beirut after this week’s massive blast.

    The conference, which will be co-chaired by the United Nations, will seek pledges from participants including US President Donald Trump. It is expected to decide how to distribute the aid so it benefits the people directly.

    Macron, who visited Beirut on Thursday, promised angry Lebanese crowds that aid to rebuild the city ravaged by Tuesday’s huge explosion would not fall into “corrupt hands”.

    07:45 GMT – Arab League ‘ready’ to mobilise efforts to help Lebanon

    Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Saturday he would seek to mobilise Arab efforts to provide support to Lebanon after a massive explosion destroyed parts of its capital Beirut this week.

    Speaking after a meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, he also said reporters that the Cairo-based league of Arab states was ready to assist the investigation into the blast.

    “We are ready to help with all our means,” he said.

    07:00 GMT – More than 60 still missing after Beirut mega-blast: ministry

    More than 60 people are still missing in Beirut, four days after a massive explosion at the port left more than 150 people dead, a health ministry official said.

    “The number of dead is 154, including 25 who have not yet been identified,” the official told the AFP news agency. “In addition, we have more than 60 people still missing.”

    The health minister said on Friday that at least 120 of the 5,000 people who were injured on Tuesday are in critical condition.

    02:33 GMT – WHO worried Beirut’s coronavirus outbreak could get worse

    The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is scrambling to deploy $1.7m worth of personal protective equipment to Beirut after 17 containers filled will supplies and equipment for the COVID-19 response were destroyed in the city’s devastating chemical explosion.

    Dr Rick Brennan, the WHO emergencies director for the eastern Mediterranean region, said 6,100 people were injured in the blast and stressed the importance of now balancing the coronavirus response with pressing immediate needs such as trauma care and psychosocial support.

    “This massive extra burden of injured people, displaced people, means that resources are going to have to be focused on that response – and we worry that an already overburdened health system and the Ministry of Health is now going to be overstretched to meet the needs of both the COVID response and the emergency response.”

    00:13 GMT – Trump to join aid conference call for Beirut

    US President Donald Trump has said he will join a conference call with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and other world leaders on Sunday to discuss aid to Lebanon.

    Trump, who spoke earlier with the conference’s organiser, Frace’s President Emmanuel Macron, tweeted that “everyone wants to help!”

    “We will be having a conference call on Sunday with President Macron, leaders of Lebanon, and leaders from various other parts of the world,” he said.

    He said he told Aoun that three large US aircraft were en route to Lebanon to deliver medical supplies, food, water and medical personnel.

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