International rescue teams were still hard at work in Beirut’s port searching for bodies on Friday, a full three days after a cataclysmic blast sent a wave of destruction through Lebanon’s capital, killing nearly 150 people and wounding thousands.
AP reports at least four more bodies have been recovered in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 149. The blast shredded a large grain silo, devastated neighborhoods near the port and left several city blocks littered with glass and rubble.
French and Russian rescue teams with dogs were searching the port area on Friday, the day after French President Emmanuel Macron visited the site, promising aid and vowing to press for reforms by Lebanon’s long-entrenched political leaders.
Britain is sending the survey vessel HMS Enterprise, currently in Cyprus, to assess damage and help Lebanese authorities prepare to rebuild the port, as Breitbart London reported.
Some 300,000 people — more than 12 percent of Beirut’s population — are unable to return to their homes because of the explosion, which blew out doors and windows across the city and left many buildings uninhabitable. Officials have estimated losses at $10 billion to $15 billion.
Damaged hospitals, already strained by the coronavirus pandemic, are still struggling to deal with the wounded.
The investigation is focusing on port and customs officials, with 16 employees detained and others questioned. But many Lebanese say it points to much greater rot that permeates the political system and extends right to the country’s top leadership.
The explosion came as Lebanon was already knee-deep in its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Activists have called for a large anti-government demonstration on Saturday — an event they have titled “hang them by the gallows.”
Thursday’s scuffles erupted as Lebanon’s ambassador to Jordan resigned, saying ‘total negligence’ by the country’s authorities signalled the need for a leadership change.
It is the second such resignation over Tuesday’s blast, after lawmaker Marwan Hamadeh also stepped down on Wednesday.
Meanwhile China has been pinpointed as a possible key to the port’s future as a prominent commentator in Lebanon suggested Beijing could be approached for financial help under the auspices of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) initiative.
As Breitbart News reported, the BRI sees China work to gain access to the world’s most important ports, railways, and harbors to bring them under Communist Party control.
The global scheme offers Chinese government loans at high interest rates to countries that (mostly) can least afford them, which are then used to pay the Chinese government for construction projects.
When the countries default on their loans, China seizes their assets.
AP, AFP contributed to this story