Beirut explosion: Lebanon's president tries to calm anger

Ruben Fields
August 8, 2020

"We would be willing to consider such a request if we were to receive one".

Beirut has received a stream of worldwide assistance since the blast, with the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, set to visit the ravaged capital on Saturday.

The explosion killed more than 150 people and injured at least 5,000.

The UN children's agency UNICEF has said almost 80,000 children are among the 300,000 people left homeless, including many who have been separated from their families.

Lebanon's investigation has so far led to at least 21 arrests, including Beirut port's general manager Hassan Koraytem, along with other customs officials and port engineers.

With destruction from the blast engulfing half of the capital and estimated to cost more than $3 billion, world leaders, advocacy groups and Lebanese have demanded an worldwide probe to ensure impartiality.

"It's unclear right now what exactly caused this explosion", Fox News Channel's foreign correspondent Trey Yingst told "Fox & Friends" Friday, noting that Pentagon officials have said they do not believe this was any sort of outside incident and looks to be an accident.

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Lebanon's President Michel Aoun said Friday that Lebanon's political system should be "reconsidered", as public outcry continues over Tuesday's explosion that destroyed Beirut's port and leveled entire neighborhoods.

"The zone is enormous".

During a televised speech, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said the explosion was an "exceptional event" requiring unity and calm, which also presented an opportunity for Lebanon to come out of its ongoing political and economic crisis.

He said Lebanon is facing the "triple tragedy of the socio-economic crisis, COVID-19 and the ammonium nitrate explosion".

The U.N. human rights office is calling for an independent investigation, insisting "victims' calls for accountability must be heard".

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, cited the need for the global community to "step up" to help Lebanon with both a quick response and sustained engagement.

Colville also called for the poor and most vulnerable to be respected as Beirut and Lebanon rebuild, and urged Lebanese leaders to "overcome political stalemates and address the grievances of the population".

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