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Traumatised Beirut marks one week since devastating port blast

Traumatised Beirut marks one week since devastating port blast

DPA
Beirut
Thousands of Lebanese marched on Tuesday to the site in Beirut port where 165 people were killed in a massive blast that destroyed most of the capital exactly a week ago.
Walking silently while carrying white roses, with tears in their eyes, Beirut traumatized residents marched towards the port at the same time the blast went off last Tuesday.
A large screen was erected, and two people read the names of those who lost their lives in the blast.
“I am speechless. We lost our beautiful Beirut,” said Randa, who lost her home in Beirut’s district of Gemaziyeh in the blast.
Church bells mourning the dead echoed across the area, while the nearby mosque of Mohammed al-Amin blared out verses from the Koran, Islam’s holy book.
Many marchers had wrapped themselves in the Lebanese flag and were shouting: “Long live Lebanon.”
They also chanted: “We are survivors, we will revive from under the rubble.” 
The marchers lit candles for the victims of the blast that has triggered angry street protests against the country’s ruling elite.
The death toll from the Beirut port blast has risen to 165, according to a Health Ministry official, as recovery operations continued.
“We are still searching, but we are losing hope,” a rescue worker who requested anonymity told dpa at the scene.
The huge blast rocked Beirut port on August 4, wounding 6,000 people and displacing some 300,000 people.
The explosion was linked to a warehouse in which some 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate were being stored.
In areas near the blast site, people were still removing rubble from their homes.
“All I could find was my little daughter’s doll under the rubble,” a crying local resident said.
People have yet to recover from the shock of the large-scale damage across the capital.
The explosion and its aftermath prompted the Lebanese government of Hassan Diab to resign on Monday amid calls by protesters to hold those responsible accountable. Coinciding with Tuesday’s commemoration march, some protesters hurled stones at iron fences and clashed with police near the parliament in central Beirut, witnesses said.
The demonstrators also burnt an effigy of Lebanese President Michel Aoun. No casualties were reported so far.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan were in Beirut for solidarity visits to Lebanese officials.
“The materials necessary for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the port and damaged property will be provided,” said Sameh Shukri, Egypt’s foreign minister, after meeting Aoun.
He added that his country was “ready to respond to any request made by Lebanon in this area, especially since Lebanon’s support is a priority for President (Abdel-Fatah) al-Sissi,” the Egyptian official said, according to Lebanon’s state news agency NNA.
Jordan Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said his country was also ready to assist Lebanon.

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