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Beirut blasts toll reaches 135, state of emergency declared

Thursday - August 6, 2020 11:33 am , Category : WORLD
Beirut, Aug 6 (IANS) The death toll from the two deadly explosions at the Beirut port has increased to 135, while the Lebanese cabinet has declared a state of emergency in the capital city of two weeks.
The new toll was confirmed on Wednesday by Health Ministry Hamad Hassan, Xinhua news agency reported.
He added that the number of the injured persons currently stood at 5,000.
Meanwhile, the state of emergency will be under the supervision of the Lebanese army who will maintain security in the city.
Primary information has revealed that 2,700 tonnes ammonium nitrate stored since 2014 in warehouse No. 12 at the port might have caused the explosions on Tuesday evening.
The cabinet decided to arrest port officials who were aware and involved in the storage of the ammonium nitrate.
It also urged the Public Works Ministry to secure import and export activities through Port of Tripoli, given the destruction inflicted by the accident.
The High Relief Commission will work on opening schools and hotels for people who lost their houses.
Investigations into the disaster are ongoing and the Higher Defense Council has promised to reveal some results within five days.
The UN is also assessing the damages and planning alternative aid operations, according to Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Specialists are being dispatched to Beirut to assist in the emergency response, both from the UN and several countries, Haq said, adding that experts are also on the way to support urban search and rescue operations.
Meanwhile, Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud has that the explosions cost the city $3-5 billion in material losses.
Most of the shops in Beirut's downtown area were destroyed since the downtown is located close to Beirut's port.
Buildings in other locations in the city, including Ashrafieh, Gemmayzeh, Mar Michael, Jnah and Ras Beirut, were partly if not fully destroyed.
President of the Syndicate of Hotels Owners Pierre Ashkar revealed on Wednesday that 90 per cent of the hotels in the city were damaged while many of the employees and guests were injured.

--IANS ksk/