Search and rescue operation continues in Beirut after massive blast

TASS Russian News Agency | Aug 7, 2020 at 2:55 PM

BEIRUT, August 7. /TASS/. A search and rescue operation continues in Beirut after the devastating explosion that rocked the city on Tuesday. Dozens of people are still missing.

Humanitarian assistance is coming to Lebanon from around the globe. Countries are sending medical equipment and field hospitals, food products, building materials, fuels to help Lebanon recover after the disastrous blast. Russia's contribution included humanitarian cargoes, rescuers and medics, as well as a laboratory for coronavirus diagnosis.

Rescuers and volunteers are searching through rubble and debris in a hope to find survivors. Volunteers of Turkish public organizations offer food to people from trucks seen in Beirut's rubble- and dust-covered streets.

Iran was among the first to send assistance to Lebanon. A field hospital has been organized near Beirut's port. Local medical students are helping doctors.

The Beirut tragedy has shocked the entire Arab world. Hundreds of thousands of social networks users take part in the action with the hashtag BeirutInOurHearts. People extend their condolences, offer assistance to those in need. They also demand the authorities conduct a thorough and transparent probe in to the tragedy and punish those responsible for it.

The Lebanese media have launched their own probe. Thus, the Al-Jamahiriya newspaper said citing its source in the security sphere that the range of those held responsible for the blast is not confined to the administration and employees of the port and customs office. According to the source, security agencies learned about hazardous chemical stored at the port as far back as early 2019 and informed about it all relevant structures and court instances. But no measures have been taken. Apart from that, the source claims, welding works at the port were performed by non-professional welders who had not been instructed about safety rules. The warehouse that held nearly 3,000 tonnes of explosive substances was not even equipped with automatic fire-fighting systems.

A powerful blast rocked the Beirut seaport area near the Lebanese Navy's base on August 4, sending a shockwave through residential neighborhoods of the Lebanese capital. The shockwave destroyed and damaged dozens of buildings and cars. Local authorities say the blast was caused by the detonation of 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, stored in the port after being confiscated by the customs services in 2015.

According to latest updates, at least 154 people were killed and more than 5,000 were injured. Dozens are still missing. Over 300,000 people were left homeless.