Gulf Today

Beirut requests satellite images for facts about blasts


BEIRUT: Lebanese Judge Tarek Bitar said that he has sent more than 20 requests to foreign countries for satellite images in atempts to find facts about the August 2020 Port of Beirut explosions.

In a statement on Monday, Bitar said he also sent requests to local official department­s about gathering informatio­n that will support the investigat­ions into the massive twin explosions, reports Xinhua news agency.

He noted that he is working on the technical aspect of the investigat­ions, which is supposed to confirm or deny the many potential hypotheses about the nature of the explosions and the way they occurred.

The Lebanese judicial system has been on many occasions criticized by families of the victims of the Beirut explosions for the slow process of investigat­ion.

However, the lawyers concerned said such big explosions usually require a lot of time and enormous efforts to reach proper results, especially with the absence of satellite images that show the port “before, during and ater” the devastatin­g explosions.

Two huge explosions ripped through the Port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, killing about 200 people, injuring at least 6,000 others and leaving 300,000 homeless.

A big part of the Lebanese capital was destroyed in the disaster.

Investigat­ions pointed to the roughly 500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate let at the port as the cause of the explosions.

The army said on Monday it has foiled an attempt to smuggle 60 people, mostly from Syria, out of Lebanon, days after dozens of Syrians were caught trying to cross to Cyprus.

“A naval force unit stopped a boat detected by radar 10 nautical miles off the city of Tripoli” in northern Lebanon on Sunday, it said in a statement.

It said the vessel had been trying “to smuggle 60 people, 59 Syrians and one Lebanese.”

Their intended destinatio­n was not specified but neighbouri­ng Cyprus is the most popular sea smuggling route.

On Saturday, Lebanese police said they stopped 51 Syrians who planned to make the crossing to Cyprus and had paid a smuggler $2,500 each.

The army has said it also stopped another 69 Syrians in the last week of April.

Security sources said that the number of smuggling atempts has been on the rise since last month.

Lebanon, home to more than six million people, is just 160 kilometres from Cyprus.

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