Investigation Underway

Aug 8, 2020

As of 7 August 2020, an investigation is underway amid ongoing recovery efforts at the Port of Beirut following a large explosion on 4 August. Currently, there are 154 recorded fatalities and approximately 5,000 injuries, as a result of the blast. The Lebanese army has set up a 24-hour call center to help manage the ongoing crisis and field any questions regarding the explosion. Individuals may dial 117 locally or (961-5) 456-900 from outside of Lebanon; reports indicate that the line is only available in Arabic.

Meanwhile, resentment against the government over the explosion remains high. On 7 August activists circulated fliers in Beirut calling for anti-government protests in Martyrs’ Square in the downtown area of the city on 8 August at 1700 local time (1400 UTC). On 6 August security personnel deployed tear gas against protesters congregated at Martyrs’ Square. Police officers clashed with demonstrators after a number of protesters attempted to storm the parliament building. Anecdotal reports indicate that several protesters suffered injuries during the clashes. There were additional protests outside the French ambassador’s residence in Beirut, which concluded without violence.

As part of the investigation into the explosion, security forces have detained at least 19 people for interrogation. There are also reports that the owner of the cargo ship that transported the ammonium nitrate which reportedly triggered the blast was arrested in Cyprus on an Interpol Red Notice.

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