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The New Arab Staff

Lebanon declares two-week state of emergency in Beirut

Calls for an independent investigation are growing [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 August, 2020

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Lebanon's government has said it wants officials placed under house arrest over the cataclysmic blast.

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Lebanon, Aoun.

Lebanon's government on Wednesday announced a two-week state of emergency in the country's capital following Tuesday's devastating explosion in Beirut.

The blast in Beirut's port area killed at least 113 people and wounded 4,000 others, wreaking damage across the coastal city.

Officials say they expect the death toll to climb higher as search and rescue teams continue efforts to locate dozens of missing people.

Lebanon's government has said it wants officials placed under house arrest over the cataclysmic blast.

"We call on the military leadership to impose house arrest on all those who organised the storage of ammonium nitrate" at Beirut's port, Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad said, referring to the substance that sparked Tuesday's massive explosion.

A day earlier, Lebanese President Michel Aoun said it was "unacceptable" that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate had been stored unsafely for over six years and vowed the "harshest punishments" for those responsible.

As Lebanon prepares to investigate the exact cause of the deadly blast, concerns have been raised about the government's ability to produce an accurate or balanced report on the incident.

A special investigation committee formed by the government on Tuesday is headed by Lebanon's justice minister, the prime minister and several security chiefs.

"Everybody has been appointed by the parties in power, and therefore, no judge is able to carry out an investigation on this really serious explosion," former Lebanese lawmaker Marwan Hamadeh told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.

"Never have we witnessed such a catastrophe," he added. "No body wants to hear anything. We have this dictatorship … Hezbollah on one side, and the party of the president (Aoun) on the other." 

Hamadeh joined called for an international inquiry committee to be formed to investigate the blast.

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