Published: Mon, August 10, 2020

Beirut blast: Lebanon's entire government resigns in the wake of deadly explosion

Beirut blast: Lebanon's entire government resigns in the wake of deadly explosion

Maronite patriarch Beshara Rai joined the chorus of people pressing Prime Minister Hassan Diab's cabinet to step down over a blast he said could be "described as a crime against humanity".

The move risks opening the way to dragged-out negotiations over a new Cabinet amid urgent calls for reform.

Diab compared Tuesday's explosion to an "earthquake that rocked the country" prompting his government to resign.

The explosion at the Port of Beirut is believed to have been sparked by a fire that ignited thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate, which had been stored unsecured at a warehouse for several years. The material had been stored at the port since 2013 with few safeguards despite numerous warnings of the danger.

And today has seen the first Lebanese minister resign from government in response to the public outcry.

Losses from the blast are estimated to be between Dollars 10 billion to USD 15 billion, and almost 300,000 people were left homeless in the immediate aftermath.

Under increased pressure from the street and foreign partners exasperated by the leadership's inability to enact reforms, Diab's government is fraying at the edges.

Diab was expected to address the nation later Monday. Tony Saliba, the head of the Lebanese State Security, had been questioned by a judge. Public Prosecutor Ghassan El Khoury questioned Maj. Gen.

Diab's speech was published by the National News Agency in Lebanon, the state-run media outlet.

Overall insured losses - including property damage - from the August 4 port warehouse detonation of more than 2,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate may reach around $3 billion, sources told Reuters last week.

The UN said about $117 million would be needed over the next three months for health services, emergency shelter, food distribution and programmes to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, among other interventions.

"I wrote a report in the morning the explosion happened in the evening", Najjar said. It's you know, you can nearly say how does a country survive such a tragedy?

Promising a new style of governance, the American University of Beirut (AUB) engineering professor and former education minister described himself as "one of the rare technocrat ministers since Lebanon's independence" in the 1940s.

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron oversaw a UN-backed virtual donor conference that pledged 250 million euros ($294 million) in aid for the cash-strapped country, where some 300,000 people were rendered homeless by the disaster.

He served as education minister from 2011 to 2014, a brief experience in politics in a government dominated by Muslim Shiite terror group Hezbollah and its allies.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said "it is natural for people to be frustrated".

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz drew a line Monday between the blast and claims that Hezbollah stores its rockets and weapons deep inside civilian areas. "Operation ongoing, updates shortly", it said.

In a strongly-worded statement at the end of the conference, International Monetary Fund director Kristalina Georgieva said months of talks with Lebanon had "yet to yield results" as politicians and bankers remained divided over what needed to be done.

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