Prosecution says to grill ministers over Beirut blast Aug 13, 2020 0 387 12345 AFPBeirutLebanon’s judiciary will question several ministers, a judicial official said Wednesday, over a massive chemical blast at a Beirut port warehouse that ravaged the capital and sparked unprecedented public outrage.Survivors and volunteers were still sweeping pulverised glass off rubble-strewn streets a week after a large depot of industrial chemicals blew up at Beirut’s port, a blast President Michel Aoun estimated had caused more than $15 billion-worth of damage.The official death toll rose to 171, while 6,500 were injured and 300,000 left temporarily homeless in the country’s worst peacetime disaster.Top diplomats streamed into Lebanon to show solidarity and urge reforms to curb the corruption blamed for allowing a vast stock of ammonium nitrate, a compound often used in homemade bombs, to rot for years at the port despite repeated warnings.An AFP investigation found that up until the day before the deadly blast, officials had exchanged warnings over the cargo, but did nothing despite experts’ fears it could cause a massive conflagration.A judicial official said Wednesday that the prosecution would question several ministers and former ministers over the disaster.Meanwhile, at Beirut’s main fire station, a stone’s throw from the charred and ruined port, firefighters held an emotional funeral for one of 10 comrades they lost in the catastrophe.Ten firefighters are confirmed to have died, and six more are still among the missing, including three members of the same family.Rina Hitti, the mother of one and related to the two others, said: “In one piece or several, we want our sons back.”Emergency crews on Wednesday were still searching the dusty “ground zero” where the explosion pulverised buildings and left a water-logged 43-metre-deep crater where a quay and warehouses once stood.Around 100 of the wounded were recently still listed in critical condition and it was feared the death toll could yet rise as Beirut’s hospitals treat the casualties.More than half of 55 healthcare facilities evaluated by the World Health Organization were “non-functional,” the agency said Wednesday, adding that three major hospitals were out of operation and another three running at well below normal capacity, he said. Among those killed was a diplomat from Germany, whose Foreign Minister Heiko Maas arrived in Lebanon Wednesday for a short visit of support.In a social media message, he stressed the need for “profound economic reform”. Under intense domestic and foreign pressure, Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced his government’s resignation on Monday. French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday warned Tehran against interfering in Lebanon, urging his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani “to avoid any outside interference and to support the putting in place of a government which can manage the emergency,” the Elysee said. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES Two dead in Bangalore violence over anti-Islam Facebook post Aug 13, 2020 0 428 Philippines’ Duterte says will be Russia vaccine ‘guinea pig’ as talks begin Aug 13, 2020 0 459 Mali forces fire tear gas to clear Bamako protesters Aug 13, 2020 0 399 Militants capture key port in gas-rich N Mozambique: Sources AFP Maputo Islamist militants occupied a key port in gas-rich northern Mozambique on Wednesday following days of renewed attacks, a military source and local media said. “The port of Mocimboa da Praia was captured by the .. Iranian president warns against arms embargo extention DPA Tehran Iranian President Hassan Rowhani has threatened consequences if the UN Security Council prolongs an arms embargo against Iran at the behest of the United States. UN resolution 2231, which is part of the 2015 .. Iraq cancels Turkish defence minister’s visit after deadly strike DPA Baghdad Iraq cancelled a visit set for Thursday by the Turkish defence minister to Baghdad after a deadly airstrike in Kurdistan allegedly carried out by Turkey. Turkey frequently launches attacks in northern Iraq, .. Syria’s Al-Assad interrupts speech due to drop in blood pressure Damascus Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday was forced to interrupt his address to the recently elected parliament due to a slight drop in blood pressure, according to a presidential statement. Al-Assad’s .. Israel shrinks Palestinian fishing zone in response to arson balloons DPA Gaza Strip/Tel Aviv Israel on Wednesday restricted the permitted fishing zone off the Palestinian territory in response to incendiary balloons being launched into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip in recent .. Belgian tycoon cedes control of DR Congo bank Kinshasa Belgian tycoon George Forrest has sold his majority stake in the Commercial Bank of the Congo (BCDC) to Kenya’s Equity Group Holdings, the Kenyan firm announced Wednesday. The Forrest group has operated in the ..