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Aftermath of Tuesday's blast in Beirut's port area Aftermath of Tuesday's blast in Beirut's port area 

Facts surrounding bombing in Beirut continue to unfold

The leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah group has denied rumours that his movement had stored arms at Beirut's port.

As the cleanup effort continues, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has strongly denied that his movement had secretly stored arms and ammunition at Beirut's port.

His comments came as rumours abounded that the militant group he heads had stashed weapons at warehouses near the seafront.

Calling the explosion a "major tragedy" in a TV address, Nasrallah said his group had nothing in the port: “Not an arms depot, nor a missile depot nor missiles nor rifles nor bombs nor bullets nor nitrate”.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gives televised address
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gives televised address

Hezbollah is the only group that kept arms after the country’s civil war which raged between 1975 and 1990 – the group holds considerable power in the government and parliament.

During his speech, Nasrallah gave warm praise for aid sent by the international community but singled out a visit by the French President Emmanuel Macron as being the ‘most significant’.

Anger grows

Meanwhile, on the streets, a growing mood of anger continues over Tuesday’s explosion which killed at least 159 people and injured 5,000 others.

The powerful blast-wave devastated vast swathes of the capital, leaving some 300,000 people without a roof over their heads. To make matters worse, UN aid agencies say that a humanitarian crisis could erupt given Lebanon imports over 80 percent of its food.

Activists have called for a mass demonstration Saturday against those they hold responsible for the blast. Marchers will also commemorate the victims during a vigil from the port to Martyr’s Square.

Officials arrested

In a separate development, authorities in Beirut have arrested port and customs officials in connection with their investigation into the blast. At the same time, Lebanese President Michel Aoun has brushed aside calls for an international investigation into the tragedy.

Many countries in the region expressed solidarity with Lebanon which has been dealt a further blow as it grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and a severe economic crisis.

Listen to Nathan Morley's report
08 August 2020, 11:04