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Iraqi-donated oil arrives in disaster-stricken Lebanon

The convoy arrived via Syria [Twitter]

Date of publication: 9 August, 2020

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Iraqi-donated oil has arrived in Lebanon after travelling through the Syrian border on Sunday.
Lebanon has received oil sent from Iraq on Sunday as part of efforts to assist the country in the aftermath of a deadly Beirut blast that killed more than 100.

The oil convoy, which also includes tonnes of medical aid, arrived in the Lebanese capital along with banners reading "from Iraq to the brotherly people of Lebanon".

The gesture of goodwill entered through Lebanon's border with Syria just days after the blast at Beirut's port ripped through neighbourhoods in the capital, killing more than 150 and leaving thousands homeless.

Iraq's Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail arrived in Lebanon days earlier with a team to mobilise the assistance.

On Sunday, the Lebanese army said hopes have dwindled of finding survivors at the blast site in Beirut following days of search and rescue operations supported by international experts.

"After three days of search and rescue operations we can say we have finished the first phase, which involved the possibility of finding survivors," Colonel Roger Khoury told a press conference. 

"As technicians working on the ground, we can say we have fading hopes of finding survivors," added Khoury, who heads a team of military technicians operating at the blast site.

The death toll from the explosion of a long-neglected pile of ammonium nitrate stood at 158 people and a staggering 6,000 wounded, many by flying glass as the shockwave tore through the city.

The blast, whose mushroom cloud reminded many of an atomic bomb, left a 43-metre (141 foot) deep crater at Beirut's port, said a security official citing French experts working in the disaster area. 

Lebanese protesters enraged by official negligence blamed for Beirut's enormous and deadly explosion vowed Sunday to rally again after a night of street clashes in which they stormed several ministries.

"Prepare the gallows because our anger doesn't end in one day," warned one message circulating on social media in response to Tuesday's earthquake-strength blast of a huge pile of industrial chemicals.

While the exact circumstances that led to the blast are not yet known, protesters say it could not have happened without the kind of corruption and incompetence that has come to define Lebanon's hereditary ruling class.

The protest camp renewed its demand that drove a first wave of anti-government protests last year for a wholesale removal of Lebanon's leadership, but this time anger has turned into full-blown rage.

Read also: Hero Lebanese firefighter Sahar Fares buried after fatal Beirut blast

The calls for renewed protests came as French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris oversaw a UN-backed virtual donors conference to raise aid for Lebanon, a country already mired in a painful economic crisis.

The world must respond "quickly and effectively" to the disaster, Macron warned, urging international cooperation "to ensure that neither violence nor chaos prevails".

In Beirut, the fury on the streets has further shaken the embattled government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab, which saw its first cabinet resignation when the information minister, Manal Abdel Samad, quit Sunday.

"After the enormous Beirut catastrophe, I announce my resignation from government," she said, apologising to citizens for having failed them.

More ministers looked set to follow but, according to local media, Diab was said to gauge how big the wave of resignations might be before perhaps announcing the government's.

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