Disasters & Accidents

Rescue teams continue search for missing people at Beirut port

By Isaac J. Martin

Beirut, Aug 18 (efe-epa).- Two weeks after the Beirut Port blast, rescue teams continue searching for people reported missing, taking care not to disturb evidence that could reveal the circumstances surrounding the explosion.

“We won’t stop until we hear the word ‘disappeared’ no more,” chief of information for the Beirut firefighter brigade, Ali Najm, told Efe at the Karantina station.

Karantina is one of the neighborhoods more heavily damaged by the blast in the nearby port on 4 August, when nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a port warehouse detonated, killing 180 killed and injuring more than 6,000.

Inside the port, to which EFE received access on Tuesday, the devastation is extensive along the roads leading to the scene of the explosion, with the military controlling all movement in keeping with the state of emergency declared in Beirut after the blast.

The port is a “military base” and nobody can access the site of explosion, which is considered to be a “crime scene,” a military source told EFE, requesting anonymity since he is not authorized to speak to media.

The armed forces are in charge of the port and of securing the city as well as receiving and delivering humanitarian aid under the state of emergency, which has been extended until 18 September.

The military can also act to curtail freedom of assembly, freedom of the press and of expression, and to arrest any person considered a “threat” to the security of the country.

According to the military source, 30 people are still missing and now searchers are uncovering “very small remains of human bodies” among the rubble, which are being analyzed to identify them.

On Twitter, the Interior Ministry called on the families of the foreigners reported missing to provide DNA samples to facilitate the identification of the remains that have been recovered.

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