UN bodies says situation in Beirut ‘really dire’

  • UN agencies say blast in Beirut has undermined an already weak healthcare system in Lebanon.

  • Lebanese authorities have taken into custody 16 people as part of an investigation into the Beirut port warehouse explosion that shook the capital, state news agency NNA reported.

  • The Lebanese government has given an investigative committee four days to determine responsibility for the blast, Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe told French radio.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron offered France’s support for the Lebanese people on a visit to Beirut, 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 missing people.
  • Friday, August 7

    09:50 GMT – UN agencies scramble to support Beirut blast victims

    UN agencies are scrambling to support victims of the devastating warehouse blast in Beirut, which has undermined an already weak healthcare system in Lebanon, officials said.

    Damage to hospitals has removed 500 beds of capacity, a World Health Organization spokesman told a virtual United Nations briefing. Containers with thousands of personal protection equipment (PPE) items – used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 – have also been destroyed.

    Meanwhile UNICEF said 100,000 children have had their homes damaged and are displaced in Beirut., while 120 schools serving 55,000 children are in various states of damage.

    08:50 GMT – World Food Programme plans wheat imports for Beirut

    The World Food Programme (WFP) plans to import wheat flour and grains for bakeries and mills to help protect against food shortages across Lebanon after a blast wrecked its main port in Beirut, the United Nations agency said.

    “WFP is concerned that the explosion and the damage to the port will exacerbate an already grim food security situation – that has worsened because of the country’s profound financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic,” a spokeswoman said in notes prepared for a UN briefing in Geneva, adding it would be providing food parcels to thousands of families.

    “WFP also stands ready to offer supply chain management and logistical support and expertise to Lebanon,” it said.

    08:15 GMT – Tens of thousands sign petition calling for Lebanon to be placed under French mandate

    As of Friday 08:15 GMT, at least 58,000 people have signed an online petition set up by Lebanese citizens on Wednesday to “place Lebanon under a French mandate for the next 10 years”

    “Lebanon’s officials have clearly shown a total inability to secure and manage the country,” the petition reads. “With a failing system, corruption, terrorism and militia the country has just reached its last breath.”

    “We believe Lebanon should go back under the French mandate in order to establish a clean and durable governance.”

    However, other citizens denounced the petition as a means to continue French colonialism.

    Lebanese rescue workers and army soldiers are struggling to remove huge items of debris in search for possible survivors at Beirut’s port.

    The Lebanese Red Cross believes there are still 100 people missing, most of who were working at Beirut’s port.

    “We are doing our best as we are hoping to find people alive and trapped, but all we have found so far are the remains of people beyond recognition,” said a rescue worker, who said he has been working non-stop for the past 48 hours.

    “Some foreign countries are sending help, but it might be too late for the people who may still be trapped under the debris,” he said.

    06:48 GMT – Lebanese bride happy to be alive after blast cuts short wedding video

    Israa Seblani, a 29-year-old doctor working in the United States, arrived in Lebanon three weeks ago to prepare for her wedding.

    “There is a lot of damage, many people were killed and wounded. But also if I want to look at us, myself, my husband, the photographer – how we escaped unharmed, I thank God for protecting us.”

    “This alone makes me feel optimistic and to keep the joy of the occasion that I came here to celebrate.”

    04:19 GMT – Four Filipinos killed, 31 injured

    At least four Filipinos were killed in the Beirut explosion and two others were in critical condition, according to the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs.

    A total of 31 Filipinos were injured in the blast, the office said.

    02:10 GMT – Beirut resident vents fury at Lebanese leaders

    A Beirut resident has told Al Jazeera live on air why so many are furious with Lebanon’s authorities after she lost four neighbours in Tuesday’s explosion.

    “Our anger will only stop…if we see those b******* in prison,” she said.

    01:47 GMT – Ex-captain of cargo ship blames Lebanese authorities for blast

    Boris Prokoshev, the former captain of the ship that brought almost 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate to Beirut, said Lebanese authorities were “very well” aware of the dangers posed by the vessel’s cargo.

    “It’s the government of Lebanon that brought about this situation,” Prokoshev told The Associated Press news agency from his home in the Krasnodar region of Russia.

    His ship, the MV Rhosus, was not supposed to be in Lebanon at all, he said.

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