Vatican News
Procession marking the feast day of the Assumption of Mary in Beirut Procession marking the feast day of the Assumption of Mary in Beirut  (ANSA)

Investigators probe cause of Lebanon blast

In his greetings following the Angelus on Sunday morning, Pope Francis said he was continuing to pray for Lebanon, and remembered in prayer “the many other situations in the world that are causing great suffering to people.” On the 4 August a massive explosion ripped through the port of Beirut and the surrounding areas, killing 170 people, injuring thousands and causing damage to buildings, including Churches and monasteries. Now International investigators are in Lebanon to try and discover what caused the devastating blast.

By Nathan Morley

On Sunday, a French forensic police unit arrived in the Lebanese capital to begin work on an investigation into the explosion. At the same time, a US envoy also touched down in Beirut to assist with the probe into the August 4 explosion which killed more than 170 people and injured thousands.

The actual cause of the fire that ignited tons of ammonium nitrate still remains unclear.

French divers have already explored the underwater crater created by the explosion and taken samples of explosives.

Meanwhile, at section of the port left undamaged, workers were unloading wheat. Earlier in the week, the World Food Programme said 17,500 metric tons of wheat flour and a three-month supply of wheat is on its way to Lebanon.

In a separate development, the United Nations launched an appeal for $565 million in assistance for Lebanon.

The money will used for reconstruction efforts.

Najat Rochdi, a UN humanitarian coordinator for Lebanon said: “The task of rebuilding people’s lives and recovering from the devastation is only just beginning.”

Listen to the report

Even before the blast, Lebanon was suffering a deep economic crisis and struggling to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The country recorded record high unemployment levels, sluggish growth and holds one of the highest debt ratios anywhere in the Middle East.

Last week, international leaders took part in a virtual donor conference pledging nearly $300m in humanitarian assistance which will be directly delivered to the people through the United Nations, international organizations and NGOs.

16 August 2020, 13:09