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Beirut blast: Port officials under house arrest,The death toll has risen

             Lebanese officials say several Beirut port officials have been placed under house arrest as part of an investigation into Tuesday's bombing. The blast killed at least 135 people and injured more than 4,000. A state of emergency has been declared in the country for two weeks. The country's president, Aoun Michel, said the blast caused 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which had been stored unsafely there. Customs chief Badri Dahar said his agency had asked for the chemicals to be removed, but that did not happen. "We leave it to the experts to figure out why it wasn't removed," he says. Addressing an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the president said: The fear that plagued Beirut last night cannot be described in words.

            Experts at the British University of Sheffield estimate that the intensity of the Beirut bombing was one-tenth the magnitude of the atomic bomb. Which was demolished during the Second World War in Hiroshima, Japan. And it was arguably the deadliest non-nuclear explosion in history. The bomber struck shortly after 6 pm local time at a warehouse in the Beirut port area, shaking the city. Its magnitude was so strong that its effects were felt 240 km away in the eastern Mediterranean country of Cyprus, where people considered it an earthquake. Prior to the blast, a fire was seen at the affected area in the port, after which a large explosion took place and orange clouds covered the crash site. The blast caused extensive damage to the port and its environs, as well as business and residential buildings and vehicles.

         Three days of mourning are being observed in the country. The blast appeared to have taken place in a warehouse of ammonium nitrate, but has not yet been officially confirmed. The Lebanese president has said the ammonium nitrate had been in an unsafe warehouse for six years. Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab has said it is "unacceptable" that the warehouse contained 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate. “I will not let any one until I find out who is responsible for this incident so that he can be held accountable and severely punished," he wrote in a message on his Twitter account. 

        The Lebanese president added that his government was releasing 100 billion lira to deal with the emergency, the equivalent of  65 million dollar. Rescue operations are still under way in the affected area, and rescue workers say the death toll is expected to rise. "We are seeing a huge catastrophe," said George Qaitani, head of the Lebanese Red Cross. There are wounded and bodies everywhere. Authorities say an investigation into the incident has been launched to determine the cause of the blast. 

        The blast comes at a time when the country is in deep crisis. The economic situation in the country is very bad and at the same time there is an outbreak of corona virus. There is also a state of political tension in the country as the trial of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005, is set to take place on Friday.


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