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Beirut Port Blast

What is affected
Housing Private
Type of violation Demolition/destruction
Date 04 August 2020
Region MENA
Country Lebanon
City Beirut

Affected persons (number & composition)

Total 300000
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Your solution
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Demolition/destruction
Housing losses
- Number of homes 80000
- Total value

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

State
Local
Interntl org.
Brief narrative

Beirut explosion left 300,000 homeless, caused up to $15 billion in damage

Two days after a massive explosion in Beirut, the death toll held at 135 people with 5,000 wounded, yet the estimate on those made homeless increased to 300,000, with losses estimated between $10 and $15 billion, Beirut Gov. Marwan Abboud told the Saudi-owned TV station Al-Hadath.

On thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron toured the destruction and was met by a crowd chanting at Lebanon’s political leaders: “Revolution” and “The people want to bring down the regime.

A woman shouted at him that he was sitting with warlords. Macron responded “I’m not here to help them. I’m here to help you,” and he and the woman, both wearing masks, embraced.

Macron said he wasn`t there to support the regime and said French aid would not fall into the “hands of corruption.”

“If reforms are not made, Lebanon will continue to sink,” Macron said.

As international aid flows into Lebanon, corruption remains a concern in a nation that was already reeling from an economic crisis. Decades after Lebanon`s 15-year civil war, residents endure frequent power outages and poor public services.

I lived in Beirut throughout the civil war, but never did I face such an experience, as the explosion Tuesday, said Nabil Dajani, media studies professor at the American University of Beirut. I cannot describe the damage I saw.

Ammonium Nitrate in Beirut

An investigation is underway into Tuesday`s blast, which appeared to have been caused by an accidental fire that ignited a port warehouse holding 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate.

Ammonium nitrate was used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, when a truck bomb containing 2.4 tons of fertilizer and fuel oil killed 168 people in a federal building. It`s a common fertilizer that`s highly explosive.

The Beirut blast had a force of at least 500 tons of TNT, according to a U.S. government source who was not authorized to speak publicly. The estimate was based on the widespread destruction, said the source who has experience with military explosives.

Lebanon customs department chief Badri Daher told LBC TV late Wednesday that officials had sent five or six letters over several years to the judiciary asking that the ammonium nitrate be removed because it was dangerous.

The government said Wednesday that port officials have been placed under house arrest pending the investigation.

The cargo had been stored at the port since it was confiscated from a ship six years earlier. Based on the timeline and the size of the cargo, that ship could be the MV Rhosus. The ship was initially seized in Beirut in 2013 when it entered the port due to technical problems, according to lawyers involved in the case. It came from the nation of Georgia, and had been bound for Mozambique.

One theory of the cause is that the fire began when welders were trying to repair a broken gate and a hole in the wall of Hangar 12, where the ammonium nitrate was stored. Local news reports say the repair work was ordered by security forces concerned about theft. But port officials say the welders completed their work long before the fire broke out.

Lebanon Crisis Could Get Worse with COVID

Lebanon was already on the brink of collapse, with soaring unemployment and a financial crisis that has wiped out people’s life savings. Hospitals were already strained by the coronavirus pandemic, and one was so badly damaged by the blast it had to treat patients in a nearby field.

Dr. Firas Abiad, director general of Rafik Hariri University Hospital, the public hospital leading the coronavirus fight, said he expects an increase in cases in the next 10 to 15 days linked to thousands flooding hospitals and blood donation centers after the blast.

Tens of thousands have been forced to move in with relatives and friends after their homes were destroyed, increasing exposure. The country has reported more than 5,400 coronavirus cases and 68 deaths since February.

“There is no doubt that our immunity in the country is less than before the explosion and this will affect us medium- to long-term,” Abiad said. “We desperately need aid, not only us but all hospitals in Lebanon.”

St. George University Hospital, one of the major private hospitals in Beirut that had been receiving COVID-19 patients, was out of commission after suffering major damage.

At Hôtel Dieu, a university hospital in Beirut, oncologist Hampig Kourieh was finishing his shift when the explosion happened. He described hundreds of people covered in blood arriving on foot, cars and bikes ... the scene was apocalyptic. The smell of blood, Kourieh said, was so strong it was like iron was covering the ER. Three of his own relatives had to be treated in his hospital Tuesday night.

Rebuilding Reliant on `the Lebanese people`?

Food security is also a concern. The half-destroyed silos at the port housed about 85% of the nation`s grain. Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency quoted Raoul Nehme, the minister of economy and trade, as saying Lebanon had enough wheat for its immediate needs and would import more. About 80% of Lebanon’s wheat supply is imported, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. The government said most imports will have to come through Tripoli [Lebanon].

Non-governmental organizations in Lebanon before the explosion were already struggling to provide the aid needed to the country. HOPE worldwide is one of those organizations that has been providing assistance to the country since last October.

In addition to providing and distributing food, the HOPE Worldwide`s Lebanon branch is preparing to renovate and rebuild homes that suffered damaged from the explosion.

This is as much as we can (do) as an NGO, Mofid Tohme, the president of HOPE Worldwide`s Lebanese branch, said.

Thousands of Lebanese citizens filled the streets in the days after the blast, bringing their own brooms, shovels and other materials to help clean up the streets of Beirut, according to Lebanese activist Ralph Baydou.

This is what also what is keeping the state alive, Baydou said. Us, the Lebanese citizens stepping in instead of the State.

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut says at least one American citizen was killed and several more were injured in Tuesday’s massive explosion in Beirut’s port.

“We offer our sincerest condolences to their loved ones and are working to provide the affected U.S. citizens and their families all possible consular assistance. We are working closely with local authorities to determine if any additional U.S. citizens were affected,” the embassy said in a statement Wednesday.

Contributing: Sarah Elbeshbishi and Nadia al-Faour for USA TODAY; The Associated Press

Original article

Photo: . Source:

Slide show of images after the blast.

Before and after: A visual explainer of the six-mile radius of the blast and the crater it left behind

Resources: How to help victims in Lebanon

 

Beirut counts the cost of devastating blast

BEIRUT: Residents and businesses are counting the cost of a devastating blast that destroyed vast swathes of the city, as relief work continues in the affected areas.

The Aug. 4 explosion in the Port of Beirut killed at least 170 people and injured thousands. More than 80,000 homes have been damaged.

On Sunday people were removing wreckage from the main streets of Beirut’s neighborhoods that were either destroyed or damaged by the explosion. The relief work has focused on clearing out houses, shops and other businesses that are still filled with rubble.

But the repair and restoration work has not yet started as it is waiting on a field survey from engineers’ committees and NGOs.

Residents affected by the blast said they no longer needed food aid, but help to repair their homes before winter. They have replaced windows with nylon coils, or blocked the doors of their damaged homes with wooden panels and temporary locks. Some are staying in their homes despite the damage caused because they have nowhere else to go.

The head of the Lebanese Order of Physicians in Beirut, Sharaf Abu Sharaf, said that 2,000 doctors had been affected, either through direct physical injury or severe damage to their clinics.

There are 13,000 doctors affiliated to the syndicate, and he feared the departure of doctors and nurses from Lebanon, saying: “Some of them have already begun to emigrate.”

Three major hospitals were destroyed by the explosion, while three others were partly damaged. Geitaoui Hospital was one of those that was badly affected and it is the only hospital in Lebanon that specializes in treating burns. It is the first time the hospital has been damaged, as it has survived all the wars in Lebanon since 1975.

Abu Sharaf announced the establishment of a crisis unit, in cooperation with the World Health Organization, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Bank, to receive aid after conducting a field study on the damage to doctors and their clinics.

As the dust settled from the destruction of Beirut’s seafront and its surrounding neighborhoods, it also revealed the destruction of thousands of businesses including 1,408 restaurants, clubs, and patisseries in Greater Beirut. According to a national syndicate representing them, some of these places were completely destroyed while others were partly damaged.

The head of the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafés, Nightclubs and Pastries in Lebanon, Tony Ramy, estimated the losses at $315 million.

“On the 25th of this month, the syndicate will launch an initiative to obtain regional and international assistance, because the owners of these institutions are unable to repair and renovate their stores,” he told Arab News. “There is a need for fresh dollars, and nobody can secure this liquidity in light of the banking restrictions imposed on depositors and because of the collapse of the local currency against the dollar, in addition to the halt of business and therefore the lack of income.”

The Lebanese Army said that 30 foreign countries have so far provided aid and that dozens of planes were landing daily at Beirut airport. These countries include poorer nations such Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, which send hundreds of their nationals to work in Lebanon.

A top US official described the tragic event of Aug. 4 as a “symptom of the illnesses that lay in Lebanon.”

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale made the remark at the end of a three-day visit to Beirut, reiterating the international community’s calls for a credible and transparent investigation into the explosion’s circumstances.

“These illnesses have lasted for a very long time, and almost everyone in power bears a certain extent of responsibility for them. I am talking about decades of mismanagement, corruption, and the repeated failure of Lebanese leaders to enact meaningful and sustainable reforms.”

He urged political leaders to respond to the demands of the Lebanese people for “good governance, sound economic and financial reform, and an end to the rampant corruption” that had stifled Lebanon’s energy.

“There should be no (financial) bailout for Lebanon,” he added. “America and its international partners will respond to systemic reforms with sustained financial support when they see Lebanese leaders committed to real change in word and deed. But we cannot, and will not, try to dictate any outcome. This is Lebanon’s moment to define a Lebanese - non-foreign - vision for Lebanon. What kind of Lebanon do you have and what kind of Lebanon do you wish for? Only the Lebanese can answer this question.”

original article

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