State of emergency in Beirut, house arrest for port officials
Cairo, Aug 5 (efe-epa).- The Lebanese government on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in Beirut and put under house arrest those responsible for the large amount of ammonium nitrate that caused the powerful explosion at the port, killing dozens and injured thousands.
The cabinet declared “a state of emergency in Beirut for a period of two weeks that is renewable, and the highest military authority immediately assumes responsible for maintaining security,” Information Minister Manal Abdul-Samad said during a press conference.
The decision was taken during a cabinet meeting a day after the blast that killed more than 100 people and injured 4,000.
The minister also announced that those involved in storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate will be put under house arrest after preliminary investigations found it had exploded.
The minister added that the “competent authorities” will take the legal measures to enforce the house arrest.
The decision came under the National Defense Law, ordering the military to arrest anyone responsible for the storage and custody of the material in question from June 2014 to August 2020, the presidency added.
Earlier in the day, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the country is facing “a national crisis”, adding that investigating the explosion is “a priority” and the results “should be fast”.
“I hope everyone will stop the debates and deal with the disaster that struck the country,” Diab said during a cabinet meeting, according to the Lebanese presidency.
He called for intensifying of efforts to recover the bodies, rescue the wounded, search for missing people and provide temporary shelter to those who lost their homes.
President Michel Aoun said the impact of the tragedy will not prevent the investigation of the incident and punishment for those responsible.