At least 135 dead and 5,000 injured – Agonizing efforts to rescue trapped people – Over $ 3 billion the disaster costs and Initial investigations show negligence
Rescuers are fighting overtime to retrieve those trapped from the ruins of Beirut, after yesterday’s explosion that killed 135 people, while about 5,000 people were injured.
At the same time, the Lebanese government has decided to place under house arrest all Beirut port officials in charge of warehouses and security, ministerial sources told Reuters.
Every time rescue teams pull someone alive from the wreckage, attendees break out in celebration. One of the survivors was a young man, who had been trapped under a collapsed building for more than 10 hours. As soon as he was picked up, he was transported by ambulance to the hospital.
— Heshmat Alavi (@HeshmatAlavi) August 5, 2020
The housing problem is acute, with an estimated 300,000 people displaced. The Lebanese Red Cross rushed to create temporary shelters with food, sanitation and basic necessities to house up to 1,000 families.
Everyone is on alert. Residents, hotels, schools and organizations offer shelter to those in need, while efforts are coordinated through Social Media, under the hashtag #ourhomesareopen.
Initial investigations show negligence
In parallel with the authorities’ efforts to rescue those trapped and housing the homeless, investigations into the causes of the tragedy are also evolving.
Early evidence suggests that the cause of the explosion is years of inaction and negligence in the storage of highly explosive material at the port of Beirut. In the first hours after the explosion, the prime minister and the presidency said yesterday that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a chemical fertilizer that can also be used to make bombs, had been stored in the port for six years without any security measures.
“It is negligence,” the official source told Reuters, adding that the issue of safe storage had been raised in several committees and judges and “nothing was done” to issue an order to remove or destroy the highly flammable material. The same source said that a fire started in warehouse 9 of the port and spread to warehouse 12, where ammonium nitrate was stored.