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JUDGE ORDERS DETENTION OF TOP BEIRUT PORT OFFICIALS AFTER BLAST

A Beirut judge has ordered the detention of the director of Lebanese customs and a port director, the Lebanese National News (LNA) agency reported, after the massive blast which ripped through the capital city's port.

Tuesday's explosion killed 154 people, according to the Health Ministry, with many still missing,Weedah Hamzah wrote for the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) on August 8, 2020. President Michel Aoun vowed that the government would find out what caused the blast and that "the investigation will include direct officials."


Aoun pointed out that the incident could have been caused "by negligence or external interference by a missile or bomb" but Bahaa Hariri, brother of former prime minister Saad Hariri, pointed an accusing finger at the Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah movement. "Hezbollah is in charge of the port and the warehouse where ammonium nitrate was stored and nothing enters and exits the port or airport without them knowing," he said. 


Lebanese customs boss Badri Daher, his predecessor, Shafik Merhi, and port director Hassan Kuraitim will reportedly be kept in detention as long as investigations into the disaster continue. On Thursday, 16 people were detained in connection with the blast. 


Rescue workers have struggled to remove large chunks of debris in the search for survivors and victims. "Due to the massive damage we are seeing, we have doubts there are survivors, but we still have hope," one rescue worker told dpa. The Lebanese Red Cross believes there are still 100 people missing, most of whom were working at the port.


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