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Beirut Port explosion news roundup – Late 2020 edition

Almost 40 days into the horrific Beirut blast and the city is still havoc. The political leadership keeps blaming one another for the massive destruction. Unfortunately, all they do is blame, and no one tends to Beirut’s pain. 

For decades, Lebanon has been suffering from political and economic turmoils. The political instability in the country has posed huge damages to its economy. Consequently, in just one year, the Lebanese currency has lost 70 percent of its value. 

No doubt, these challenges have altogether brought the country on the verge of chaos. The August 4 blast proved to be the final blow needed to push the county into a blind alley.  

The horrific blast that killed more than 200 and injured beyond 6000 fueled the nation’s anger towards the corrupt elite. Many protests broke across the capital. In the riots, the Labenses demanded justice for the dead. They called for the investigation of the incident and to bring the culprits to account. 

In the wake of the increasing public pressure, Prime Minister Hassan Diab decided to step down on August 10. In the impassioned farewell speech, Hassan said, 

“We are still under the shock of the tragedy that struck Lebanon. This disaster that has hit the Lebanese at the core occurred due to chronic corruption in politics, administration, and the State. Today we are appealing to the people, to their demand to hold accountable those responsible for this disaster that has been concealed for seven years, to their desire for real change, for a shift from the State of corruption, waste, brokerage, and thefts, to a State based on the rule of law, justice, and transparency, a State that respects its citizens.”

But, the resignation could not prove to be any help during such a difficult time. Instead, it added to the problems as the country had to choose its third Prime Minister of the year.  

Thanks to corrupt leadership, the country has lost its reputation among international communities. After the blast, many countries decided to lend a helping hand but could not do so because of the rotted cabinet. On his visit to Beirut, Macron said that the French are ready to help the Lebanese brothers because an honest cabinet replaces the current one. 

At the moment, there are no signs of this happening. Everywhere, dark clouds are looming over the country. Let’s see what follows next. 

Judge Fadi Sawwan Receives FBI Investigation Report

A French investigation report on the August 4th, Beirut explosion is expected to arrive within a few days. According to Aljazeera News, a French judge investigating the blast provided information to Lebanon’s judicial investigator Fadi Sawan via call on  Tuesday,3 November.

Introduction

According to an authentic source, the French judge just disclosed preliminary information on the Beirut incident.  The  French judge has not yet received a detailed report from security and technical experts.

French investigation experts opened inquiries and other world’s renowned investigation agencies, including the FBI, after Lebanon’s investigation teams failed to find the blast’s reason.

Unfortunately, the FBI could not reach any firm conclusion regarding the cause of the Beirut explosion.

After the FBI failed to find the main cause of the explosion, French investigations were expected to be more comprehensive and conclusive. But according to a  source, the French  judge  “ stated clearly that the experts had not determined conclusively whether the explosion was the result of an intentional security operation or it was the result of negligence in storing the ammonium nitrate and shortcomings that led to the devastating explosion.”

Caretaker Justice Minister Marie-Claude told Aljazeera news that Lebanon had limited competence to investigate the incident thoroughly, so Lebanese investigators rely on French reports to dig the blast’s leading cause.

International Involvement

On November,  2 human rights group Amnesty International and Fire Brigades Union, decided to join in calling on the British government for an independent probe of the devastating Beirut blast.

They also released a one-minute video of 36-year British firefighter Holly Ferguson who depicted the blasts as “the stuff of nightmares.”Holly criticized the Lebanese officials who knew that hazardous chemicals were stored at the port, but they failed to inform the firefighters. She said Lebanese Firefights had been “badly let down” by these officials.

Amnesty International and FBU criticized the Lebanese authorities. They said that they “have no intention of conducting an effective, transparent and impartial investigation into the explosion, denying victims their right to truth, justice, and remedy; including the families of the firefighters who died doing their jobs.”

According to Matt Wrack, the general secretary of FBU :

“The devastating scenes in Beirut will live long in the memory and the thoughts of firefighters in Britain. The families of the firefighters and all those who died in Beirut deserve answers. Firefighters were led to their deaths and unforgivably let down”.

Judge Sawan

Investigation Judge Sawan is continuously hearing witnesses even three months after the deadly explosion. However, the Beirut Blast victims, including dead firefighters’ families, expressed a lack of trust in Lebanese authorities and appealed for international investigation mechanisms.

Judge Fadi Sawwan, heading the government investigation of the Beirut port explosion, received the FBI’s report on Monday. FBI, U.S investigation department Sworn to investigate the Beirut blast in August when different countries demanded an independent inquiry. Since then, people are anxiously waiting to find any shreds of evidence from the FBI.

According to the  State-run National News Agency, the investigation team is waiting to receive similar reports on the Beirut blast from British and French experts. FBI, French, and British investigation teams had collected samples from Beirut port almost a month ago. Till now, only the FBI has handed over its report to Lebanese officials.

The Newsagency said they had not received any information about the report contents. But foreign investigation reports would assist in determining the root cause and nature of the Beirut port explosion.

Earlier this month, a Lebanese outlet MTV cited unknown sources within the FBI and claimed that the FBI had identified the Beirut explosion as an attack in their report. However, according to an FBI spokeswoman, Reuters :

No such conclusion has been reached. Further questions should be directed to the Lebanese authorities as to the lead investigators

Two prominent U.S government officials said that the FBI concluded that the storage of explosive material and blast was just an accident. While other European investigation agencies also supported their claim.

Effect of the blast

Beirut port blast that took 200 lives and injured about 65,000 people is still a mystery to solve. During the period of two months, the investigation team has questioned security officers, port and customs officials, employees, and seized more than two dozen people, and rejected their request of being acquitted.

The investigation team has arrested about 25 persons, including previous port director Hasan Koraytem and Customs chief Badri Daher. But, how did almost 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate explode? Whether it was a consequence of intentional negligence or mishandling that caused the incident, nothing has been confirmed yet. Judge also rejected the request of Badri Daher to detain him at Beirut airport.

Conclusion

Whether the blast was an accident or an attack, hopefully, It would be clarified soon. But another issue that emerged after the blast and needs to be addressed urgently is Lebanon’s migrant workers. According to the International Organization for Migration, the Beirut blast left almost 24,5000 migrant workers without a home and job.

Have you been keeping an eye on the Beirut blast? What are your thoughts about it? Let us know in the comments below.

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