Protests as Lebanon arrests 16 over Beirut blast: Live updates

Demonstrators call for gov’t resignation as authorities make arrests as part of the inquiry into the deadly explosion.

  • Lebanese authorities have taken into custody 16 people as part of an investigation into the Beirut port warehouse explosion that shook the capital, state news agency NNA reported.

  • The Lebanese government has given an investigative committee four days to determine responsibility for the blast, Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe told French radio.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron offered France’s support for the Lebanese people on a visit to Beirut, but said crisis-hit Lebanon would “continue to sink” unless its leaders carry out reforms.

  • Officials said the death toll from the explosion killing at least 157 people and injuring 5,000 others was expected to rise as search-and-rescue operations continued for missing people.

Here are the latest updates:

Friday, August 7

08:50 GMT – World Food Programme plans wheat imports for Beirut

The World Food Programme (WFP) plans to import wheat flour and grains for bakeries and mills to help protect against food shortages across Lebanon after a blast wrecked its main port in Beirut, the United Nations agency said.

“WFP is concerned that the explosion and the damage to the port will exacerbate an already grim food security situation – that has worsened because of the country’s profound financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic,” a spokeswoman said in notes prepared for a UN briefing in Geneva, adding it would be providing food parcels to thousands of families.

“WFP also stands ready to offer supply chain management and logistical support and expertise to Lebanon,” it said.

08:15 GMT – Tens of thousands sign petition calling for Lebanon to be placed under French mandate

As of Friday 08:15 GMT, at least 58,000 people have signed an online petition set up by Lebanese citizens on Wednesday to “place Lebanon under a French mandate for the next 10 years” 

“Lebanon’s officials have clearly shown a total inability to secure and manage the country,” the petition reads. “With a failing system, corruption, terrorism and militia the country has just reached its last breath.”

“We believe Lebanon should go back under the French mandate in order to establish a clean and durable governance.”

However, other citizens denounced the petition as a means to continue French colonialism.

“This alone makes me feel optimistic and to keep the joy of the occasion that I came here to celebrate.”

Hello, this is Linah Alsaafin in Doha taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.

04:19 GMT – Four Filipinos killed, 31 injured

At least four Filipinos were killed in the Beirut explosion and two others were in critical condition, according to the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs.

A total of 31 Filipinos were injured in the blast, the office said.

02:10 GMT – Beirut resident vents fury at Lebanese leaders

A Beirut resident has told Al Jazeera live on air why so many are furious with Lebanon’s authorities after she lost four neighbours in Tuesday’s explosion.

“Our anger will only stop…if we see those b******* in prison,” she said.

01:47 GMT – Ex-captain of cargo ship blames Lebanese authorities for blast

Boris Prokoshev, the former captain of the ship that brought almost 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate to Beirut, said Lebanese authorities were “very well” aware of the dangers posed by the vessel’s cargo.

“It’s the government of Lebanon that brought about this situation,” Prokoshev told The Associated Press news agency from his home in the Krasnodar region of Russia.

His ship, the MV Rhosus, was not supposed to be in Lebanon at all, he said.

When it set sail from the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi, the ship was bound for the Mozambiquan port of Beira. But the Rhosus made a stop in Beirut to try to earn extra money by taking on several pieces of heavy machinery.

The machinery proved too heavy for the Rhosus, however, and the crew refused to take it on. The ship was soon impounded by the Lebanese authorities for failing to pay port fees, and never left the port again. 

“They knew very well that there was dangerous cargo there,” Prokoshev said. “In my opinion, they should have even paid him [the owner of the boat] to take the dangerous cargo, a real headache, out of the port. But they just arrested the ship instead.”

00:54 GMT – EU releases $39m in emergency aid

The European Union announced the release of 33 million euros ($39m) in emergency aid to Lebanon to help cover the immediate needs of emergency services and hospitals in Beirut.

A donor conference is also planned to mobilise additional funding for reconstruction after an assessment of what is required, an EU source told the AFP news agency.

Thursday, August 6

23:38 GMT – Tear gas as protesters gather in downtown Beirut

Security forces have fired tear gas to disperse dozens of anti-government protesters calling for the Lebanese government’s resignation near the parliament building in Beirut. 

The state-run National News Agency (NNA) said protesters set fires, vandalised stores and threw stones at security forces, prompting the officers to use tear gas.

Several people were wounded in the clashes, the agency said.



Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the deadly explosion at Beirut port. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. 

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