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Lebanon orders house arrest of officials over Beirut blast: Live | News

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Investigators in Lebanon probing the deadly blast that ripped across Beirut are now focusing on possible negligence in the storage of tonnes of a highly explosive fertiliser in a waterfront warehouse, while the government ordered the house arrest of several port officials.

The cause of Tuesday’s explosion is not immediately clear, but officials link the blast to some 2,750 tonnes of confiscated ammonium nitrate that had been stored in a port warehouse at the port for six years.

The explosion sent shockwaves through the Lebanese capital, killing at least 137 people and injuring 5,000 more.

Officials said they expect the death toll to rise further as emergency workers dig through the rubble to search for survivors.

More than 300,000 people lost their homes, and the Governor of Beirut Marwan Abboud said losses from the blast are estimated to be between $10bn to $15bn.

Lebanon’s cabinet has declared a two-week state of emergency in the capital and handed control of security in the city to the military.

INTERACTIVE: Beirut explosion map

 

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, August 6

08:03 GMT – Lebanon diaspora mobilises ‘financial bloodline’ in wake of blast

Lebanon’s diaspora, estimated at nearly three times the size of the tiny country’s population of five million, has stepped up to provide assistance following the massive explosion that laid waste to the capital Beirut.

Lebanese expats rushed to wire money to loved ones who lost their homes or were injured in the blast on Tuesday that killed at least 135 people, while others worked to create special funds to address the tragedy.

Read more here.

Lebanese diaspora

Lebanese come together for a vigil held at Kensington gardens in central London to honour the victims of the Beirut blast [Tolga Akmen/AFP]

07:47 GMT – Turkish aid, search and rescue team arrives in Beirut

A Turkish military plane carrying aid and a search and rescue team arrived in Beirut, authorities announced.

Aid material prepared by the Turkish ministry of health, the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Turkish Red Crescent (Kizilay) was loaded on a plane from Ankara.

The aircraft was carrying 21 National Medical Rescue personnel, two emergency units, three tents, medicine and medical equipment, 10 AFAD personnel, equipment, a search and rescue vehicle, three Kizilay personnel, a search and rescue team and medical and humanitarian aid.

AFAD President Mehmet Gulluoglu said more aid and emergency medical doctors will be on their way to Beirut.

07:23 GMT – Rescue operation and search for the missing continue after blast

Rescue operations were continuing as Lebanon awaited assistance following the massive explosion that rocked Beirut port and left the city in devastation.

Members of the Lebanese Red Cross, army soldiers and volunteers were still searching for people listed missing under the rubble in areas near the port.

“I am waiting here, I am not moving. My brother works inside the port and we have not heard of him since the explosion took place,” screamed Fatima as she stood nearby.

Civil defence workers were also busy examining building structures amid concerns that some might collapse after they were affected by the blast.

07:06 GMT – One French death, 24 injured after Beirut blast

One Frenchman, architect Jean-Marc Bonfils, has died while a further 24 French people were injured in Tuesday’s massive warehouse explosion in Beirut, French government ministers have said.

Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot announced Bonfils’s death in a tweet. Junior foreign affairs minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne added that, of those injured, three had serious injuries.

06:41 GMT – France’s Macron leaves for Lebanon: presidency 

French President Emmanuel Macron left Paris for Lebanon on a first visit by a world leader to Beirut after the deadly port blast, the Elysee Palace said.    

Macron’s plane took off just before 0600 GMT and was scheduled to land in the devastated city at around 0900 GMT where the French president was to meet “all political actors” including President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab.

Macron will seek to rally urgent aid for Lebanon but is also expected to press for overdue reform in France’s ex-colony, just two days after the blast.

EU Leaders Summit in Brussels

French President Emmanuel Macron is the first world leader to visit Beirut after the deadly port blast [File: Anadolu]

06:01 GMT – Death toll from Beirut port blast rises to 137, says ministry

Lebanon’s ministry of health said that 137 people have been killed in the blast at Beirut’s port on Tuesday, while at least 5,000 others have been injured. 

Red Cross volunteers at the scene of the explosion said they expect the death toll to rise as searches continue at the port where dozens are still missing, especially among employees who were present at the time of the blast.

05:10 GMT – At least one US citizen killed, several injured in Beirut blast

The US Embassy in Beirut has reported that at least one American citizen was confirmed killed and several more were injured in the explosion at Beirut’s port.

“We offer our sincerest condolences to their loved ones and are working to provide the affected US citizens and their families all possible consular assistance. We are working closely with local authorities to determine if any additional US citizens were affected,” the US statement said.

The embassy says all of its employees are safe and accounted for, according to the AP news agency report.

04:48 GMT – France’s FM raises concerns about Lebanon’s food security

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has raised concerns about Lebanon’s food security, after the massive Beirut blast damaged a major silo that contains the country’s grain supply.

“There will also be a food need that is indispensable because of the grain silos that exploded,” he was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Le Drian also called on the international community to show solidarity with Lebanon, which was already reeling economically even before the disaster.

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to arrive in Beirut later on Thursday. 

04:23 GMT – Australia pledges $1.4m aid to Lebanon

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that his country is pledging an initial $2 million Australian dollars ($1.4m) to the relief effort and is considering more.

Morrison also told reporters on Thursday that the aid will be provided to the World Food Program and to the Red Cross for food, medical care and essential items.

04:02 GMT – More medical aid from Russia expected in Lebanon

Three Russian flights are scheduled to arrive in Beirut within the next 24 hours, carrying equipment for a coronavirus testing lab and protective gear, among other medical relief supplies for Lebanon.

Earlier, Russia flew in a mobile hospital, along with 50 emergency workers and medical personnel to help with the aftermath of the blast that killed at least 135 people and injured 5,000 others. 

03:30 GMT – Amnesty joins call for international probe of Beirut blast

Beirut, Lebanon

A woman takes pictures inside a damaged church a day after an explosion hit the seaport of Beirut [Hussein Malla/AP]

Amnesty International has called for an international investigation into the Beirut blast, saying that the probe should be “free from any potential domestic political interference” to ensure “truth, justice, and reparations for victims.”

“The horrific scenes in the aftermath of the explosion were devastating for a country already suffering under the strain of multiple crises,” Amnesty’s acting chief Julie Verhaar said in a statement.

The group also urged the international community to urgently increase humanitarian aid to Lebanon “at a time when the country was already struggling with the severe economic crisis, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.”

03:00 GMT – Without giving proof, Trump repeats claim about Lebanon attack

President Donald Trump has continued to suggest that the massive explosion that killed at least 135 people in Lebanon might have been a deliberate attack, even as officials in Lebanon and his own defense chief said it’s believed to have be an accident, AP news agency reported.

“How can you say accident if somebody left some terrible explosive-type devices and things around perhaps – perhaps it was that. Perhaps it was an attack,” Trump told reporters during a White House briefing.

“I don’t think anybody can say right now. We’re looking into it very strongly right now.”

Defence Secretary Mark Esper earlier contradicted the president, saying most people believe the explosion “was an accident, as reported.”

02:45 GMT – Hariri’s party wants international investigators to join probe

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement bloc in parliament has called for the participation of international experts in the probe of the massive blast in Beirut, according to Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr.

The block said it wants a “transparent judicial investigation” into the incident that killed at least 135 people and injured 5,000 others.

02:17 GMT – Disaster-stricken Beirut to welcome France’s Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron is set to arrive in Beirut on Thursday and will meet the country’s leaders following the deadly blast that killed at least 135 people and injured 5,000 others.

Macron had already spoken to Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun after the disaster, and has ordered the deployment of assistance to the country.

01:45 GMT – Rescuers continued to dig out survivors of Beirut explosion

Search and rescue workers, who are working around the clock in the Lebanese, capital, have dug out a child from under the rubble of the explosion, more than 24 hours after the incident.

A video circulating on social media showed rescuers frantically digging debris from the collapsed building as they tried to extract the survivor.

At least 135 people were killed and around 5,000 more were injured following the blast on Tuesday.

01:17 GMT – Parisians hold prayer vigil for victims of Beirut blast

Lebanese nationals living in Paris and other members of the public held a prayer vigil in the French capital to show solidarity with the victims of a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.

The crowd gathered on Wednesday night outside the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris.

Other images of the event showed people in tears as they mourn the victims of the disaster. At least 135 people were killed and around 5,000 more were injured following the blast on Tuesday afternoon. 

Lebanon - France

Lebanese nationals in Paris and other members of the public light candles during the Solidarity Stand event, held to show support for the victims of a massive explosion in Beirut [Mohammed Badra/EPA]

00:15 GMT – Germany sends aid, rescue teams to Lebanon

Germany dispatched rescue teams to help Lebanese authorities find survivors trapped beneath rubble in Beirut.

Teams from the German THW, the country’s emergency organisation, and International Search and Rescue Germany boarded a flight from Frankfurt on Wednesday evening destined for Beirut.

On board are search and rescue dogs, medical assessment teams, as well as 15 tonnes of equipment and tools, Timo Eilhard of the THW told Reuters News Agency.

Wednesday, August 5

23:11 GMT – 10 of 11 missing Filipino seafarers near Beirut blast site found safe

The Philippine Embassy in Lebanon reported that 10 of the 11 seafarers, who were initially reported missing following the massive blast in Beirut, have been found.

According to a statement from the Philippine government, the seafarers suffered minor injuries and are now being looked after their shipping company. One seafarer remains missing.

Earlier, the Philippine government reported at least two Filipino workers were killed and six others injured in the blast.

20:50 GMT – World Bank says ready to mobilise financing for Lebanon blast recovery

The World Bank Group said it stands ready to assess Lebanon’s damage and needs after a devastating Beirut port explosion and work with the country’s partners to mobilise public and private financing for reconstruction and recovery.

The World Bank said in a statement that it “would be also willing to reprogramme existing resources and explore additional financing to support rebuilding lives and livelihoods of people impacted by this disaster”. 

20:15 GMT – Support for hospitals and trauma response is a top priority: UN

The United Nations is working closely with the authorities in Lebanon to support continuing response in the aftermath of the massive explosion, UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters.

“The World Health Organization is working closely with the Lebanese Ministry of Health to conduct an assessment of hospital facilities in Beirut, their functionality and needs for additional support, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic”, he said.

“Specialists are being dispatched to Beirut at the moment to assist in the emergency response, both from the United Nations and multiple Member States. Experts are en route to support urban search and rescue operations. Teams are also equipped to conduct rapid assessments about the situation on the ground and help coordinate emergency response activities.”

Protective gloves are scattered on the ground at a damaged hospital following Tuesday's blast in Beirut, Lebanon August 5, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Protective gloves are scattered on the ground at a damaged hospital following Tuesday’s blast in Beirut, Lebanon [Mohamed Azakir/Reuters]

19:12 GMT – Baghdad will provide fuel aid to Beirut

An Iraqi delegation headed by the Iraqi oil minister met the Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab, and informed him that Baghdad would provide fuel aid to Beirut, according to a statement by the Lebanese government.

Lebanese local media also said that an amount of wheat would arrive on Friday from Iraq as aid after the blast left the Lebanese capital short on wheat, according to the governor.

18:10 GMT – Explosion must be independently investigated: Amnesty International

Amnesty International called for an independent into Beirut’s deadly blast and urged the international community to increase humanitarian aid at this time.

Julie Verhaar, acting secretary-general of the UK-based rights group, said, “Whatever may have caused the explosion, including the possibility of a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely, Amnesty International is calling for an international mechanism to be promptly set up to investigate how this happened.

“Amnesty International also calls on the international community to urgently increase humanitarian aid to Lebanon at a time when the country was already struggling with the severe economic crisis, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.”

_____________________________________________________________

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the enormous explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

For other key developments related to the Beirut explosion from yesterday, August 5, click here. 



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Zooming ahead: Videoconferencing firm tops analysts’ expectations | Coronavirus pandemic News

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Revenue more than tripled to $882.5m in the fiscal fourth quarter, the company said, surpassing analysts’ estimates.

Zoom Video Communications Inc. projected annual revenue that would top analysts’ estimates, signaling the video meeting service expects to remain a ubiquitous presence in daily life even as the pandemic recedes. Shares jumped about 10% extended trading.

Sales will be as much as $3.78 billion in fiscal year 2022, the San Jose, California-based company said Monday in a statement. While the projected annual revenue growth of 43% is far short of Zoom’s 326% increase in the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, it topped the 37% average estimate of analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Profit, excluding some items, will be as much as $3.65 a share. Analysts projected $2.97.

Investors have feared the software maker couldn’t continue the dramatic growth in 2020 that came as people forced home in coronavirus lockdowns connected remotely on the service to work, school, friends and family.

While Zoom’s stock jumped almost fivefold last year as it became one of the biggest beneficiaries of the pandemic, it had gained just 11% during the first two months of 2021 before surging almost 10% Monday to close at $409.66 in New York.

Chief Executive Officer Eric Yuan has tried to diversify Zoom’s capabilities and add products such as a cloud phone system to appeal to more large enterprises and small- and mid-sized businesses.

“We believe we are well positioned for strong growth with our innovative video communications platform, on which our customers can build, run, and grow their businesses; our globally recognized brand; and a team ever focused on delivering happiness to our customers,” Yuan said in the statement.

Revenue more than tripled to $882.5 million in the fiscal fourth quarter, the company said. Analysts, on average, estimated $811 million. Profit, excluding some items, was $1.22 cents a share, compared with an average estimate of 79 cents.

“In our view, and whether you like it or not, video will continue to remain a core element of our daily lives and further be embedded in work, school, etc. Zoom will clearly benefit and report sustained levels of growth, in our view, and increasingly in the enterprise segment,” wrote Matt VanVliet, an analyst at BTIG, in a note before the results.

Zoom offers video gatherings free for 40 minutes and as many as 100 participants before users are charged for the service. Analysts have focused on the churn, the number of customers who drop monthly or annual subscriptions, particularly among corporate users.

The company said it had 467,100 customers with more than 10 employees, a jump of about 8% from the previous period and topping analysts’ average estimate of 442,570. The company also said 1,644 clients contributed $100,000 in trailing 12-month revenue. Analysts projected 1,474 such large customers.



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