REVISES DECK, ADDS DETAILS
By Hasan Darweesh and Iyad en-Nablusi
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AA) – The Lebanese government on Wednesday approved a state of emergency in the capital Beirut following yesterday’s deadly explosion in its harbor.
The government also decided during its session at the presidential palace to put port officials under house arrest, especially those responsible for checking explosive materials at the port's warehouses since 2014.
Information Minister Manal Abdelsamad said the state of emergency will last for two weeks effective as of Aug. 4, with the possibility of being extended.
Abdelsamad added that the security of the capital will be under the authority and responsibility of the Lebanese military.
Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi said the investigation into the blast will be transparent and last for five days and those responsible will be held accountable.
- Government announces relief package
The government also announced a relief package Wednesday for those affected by the blast, providing people with shelter and creating funds for the hospital expenses of the wounded.
The Ministry of Public Works was also asked to do what is necessary to secure exports and imports at docks in Saida and Tripoli.
The government asked Lebanon's High Aid Commission to provide homes for citizens whose residences were destroyed in the blast and to open schools and hotels for them to stay at if necessary.
Beirut and its surrounding suburbs were rocked Tuesday by a massive blast that left at least 135 people dead and nearly 5,000 injured.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared Wednesday a national day of mourning.
The blast rocked Lebanon while the country is experiencing its worst economic crisis along with a dramatic drop in the Lebanese pound’s value to the US dollar.
*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara