Lebanese President rejects global investigation of Port Blast

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BEIRUT: The Lebanese president on Friday rejected any international investigation into the horrific port explosion, saying missiles or negligence could be responsible as rescue teams desperately combed the debris for the survivors.
The ruling class was once again under fire after Tuesday’s explosion, killing at least 154 people and devastating the capital.
The revelation that a large shipment of dangerous ammonium nitrate fertilizer was destroyed for years in a warehouse in the heart of the capital served as shocking evidence for many Lebanese of the rot at the core of their political system.
Even Lebanese President Michel Aoun admitted on Friday that the “paralyzed” system needed a “rethink”.
“We are facing change and rethinking our system, which remains unanimous, as it was seen as paralyzed and incapable of swiftly executing decisions,” Aeon told reporters. said.
He promised “quick justice”, but rejected widespread calls for an international investigation, with a reporter saying he saw it as an attempt to “dilute the truth”.
“There are two possible scenarios for what happened: It was either negligence or foreign intervention through a missile or bomb,” he said, the first time a top Lebanese official raised the possibility that the port had been attacked.
Large-scale shipments of fertilizers went unnoticed – officials have said that work on the repair of the warehouse had started recently, while others had suspected firecrackers either stored at the same location or nearby.
Rescuing teams from France, Russia, Germany, Italy and other countries coordinated their search efforts, by the embalming of the port’s huge grain silos, near the seat of the blast.
Four bodies were opened near the port’s control room, where a large number of people were expected to work at the time of the explosion.
No one has been found alive.
Emily Hasserotti tweeted, “I am waiting to hear that you have been saved alive, my dear,” whose brother is missing.
“There was not a door, which I did not knock to know what had happened to you, and now that the wait is almost over, I am mad with fear.”
At the port, low in a heavy scrap area, excavators removed shipping containers to clear a path for rescue.
Civil defense teams eagerly watched a sniffer dog, as it was around a ditch under a fallen crane.
Beirut has received a torrent of international aid since the eruption with European Council President Charles Mitchell on Saturday to visit the blighted capital.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron was the first world leader to touch in Lebanon on Thursday, where he pressured officials for deeper reform ahead of an aid conference planned in the coming days.
The World Food Program said it would allocate food to affected families and promote wheat imports to replace lost stock from the port’s fragmented silos.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization called for $ 15 million (12.7 million euros) to meet immediate human health needs.
Lebanese hospitals, due to the already increasing cases of coronovirus and severe economic crisis, were severely damaged by the explosion and overwhelmed by casualties.
Relief flights from Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates landed in Lebanon on Friday followed by France, Kuwait, Qatar and Russia.
Two days after the explosion, the Lebanese capital’s largest sports stadium was hospitalized in a new Russian region.
The United Nations said that 300,000 people out of 100,000 children have been rendered homeless, including many who are separated from their families.
With more than half the capital expected to be destroyed and more than $ 3 billion in losses, world leaders have backed calls from ordinary Lebanese for those responsible for being held accountable.
Macron, in his visit on Thursday, stressed the need for an international investigation after meeting Lebanese politicians, including representatives of the powerful Shia Hezbollah movement, whose leader Hassan Nasrallah was scheduled to speak later on Friday.
A judicial source told AFP that Lebanese authorities had announced their investigation into Tuesday’s blast and detained 21 people, including customs officials and port engineers, by Friday afternoon.
He said that the general manager of the port, Hassan Koretem, was one of them.
He was being interrogated by dozens of Lebanese military court, paying attention to administrative and security officials at the port as well as government officials who may have ignored the warning about the explosive material.
“The list of arrests will reach the top people, who are now among the suspects,” the source said.
The Lebanese central bank also ordered asset freezes for seven Port and Customs officials, an official and a banking source told AFP.
The measures did not ease the anger on the streets of Beirut, where dozens of protesters scrambled with security forces late Thursday night, drawing a stock of tear gas.
Lebanon’s leadership was already deeply unpopular, with a wave of mass protests that ended only in October due to the coronovirus epidemic.

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