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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UN technical experts assess damage at Beirut blast site, as countries call for independent investigation

The explosion caused billions of dollars in damages [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 August, 2020

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Technical experts at the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon are assessing the damages of the Beirut port explosion.



Technical experts from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) conducted an assessment visit to the destroyed port complex in Beirut on Thursday.

They will work together with the Lebanese Civil Defense to evaluate the amount of damage caused by Tuesday's explosion.

Captain Stephane, Force Commander Reserve Team, United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said:

"I am a captain of the UNIFIL Force Commander Reserve Team, and with other experts of UNIFIL, we came from south Lebanon to Beirut to conduct an assessment in order to evaluate the amount of damage caused by the explosion in Beirut."

He added: "This action would in fact allow us to then propose to the Lebanese government to carry out a set of concrete actions at the health, material and above all possibly in support on how to rebuild the port of Beirut."

Calls for Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday joined several rights groups in calling for an independent investigation into the Beirut blast.

The explosion in Beirut's port area killed at least 137 people and wounded 4,000 others, wreaking damage across the coastal city.

The death toll is expected to climb higher as search and rescue teams continue efforts to locate dozens of missing people.

Officials said the blast was triggered by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate - an odorless crystalline substance commonly used as a fertiliser that has caused numerous industrial explosions around the world - which has been stored in a port warehouse for over six years.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday called for an international investigation.

"An international, open and transparent probe is needed to prevent things from remaining hidden and doubt from creeping in," he told reporters at the end of a snap visit to the Lebanese capital.

In asking for an international enquiry, he joined calls widely supported in and outside Lebanon for an independent probe, and said French investigators were on their way to Beirut.

The blast killed more than 130 people, wounded thousands and blasted buildings for miles around.

Lebanese officials have estimated losses at $10 billion to $15 billion.


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