NEGLIGENCE PROBED IN BEIRUT BLAST
BEIRUT — Investigators probing the deadly blast that ripped across Beirut focused Wednesday on possible negligence in the storage of tons of a highly explosive fertilizer in a waterfront warehouse, while the government ordered the house arrest of several port officials.
Public anger mounted against the ruling elite that is being blamed for the chronic mismanagement and carelessness that led to the disaster, which the Health Ministry said killed 135 people and injured about 5,000 others. The Port of Beirut and customs office is notorious for being one of the most corrupt and lucrative institutions in Lebanon where various factions and politicians, including Hezbollah, hold sway.
The investigation is focusing on how 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive chemical used in fertilizers, came to be stored at the facility for six years, and why nothing was done about it.
Beirut Gov. Marwan Abboud told Saudiowned TV station Al-Hadath that nearly 300,000 people are homeless.
“Beirut as we know it is gone and people won’t be able to rebuild their lives,” said Amy, a woman who swept glass from a small alley beside by a tall building that served as a showroom for a famous Lebanese designer and was a neighborhood landmark.
“This is hell. How are they (people) going to survive. What are they going to do?” she said, blaming officials for lack of responsibility and “stupidity.”
Trump continues to suggest explosion may have been an attack
President Donald Trump on Wednesday continued to suggest that the massive explosion might have been a deliberate attack, even his own defense chief said it’s believed to have be an accident.
On Tuesday, Trump called the explosion a “terrible attack” and said American generals told him it was likely caused by a bomb.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper contradicted the president Wednesday, saying most people believe the explosion “was an accident, as reported.”
But later in the day, Trump insisted nobody knows for sure.
“How can you say accident if somebody left some terrible explosive-type devices and things around perhaps — perhaps it was that. Perhaps it was an attack,” Trump said.
This combination of pictures shows the Port of Beirut before and after Tuesday’s explosion. JUNE 2 WEDNESDAY