The Lebanese people are demanding answers as rescue teams pulled more bodies from the rubble of Beirut’s port on Friday, nearly three days after a massive explosion sent a wave of destruction through the capital.
More than 300,000 people were displaced, nearly 150 killed and thousands were wounded.
The Lebanese people want to know why 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used for explosives and fertilizer, were sitting in the port, with clashes overnight in front of the parliament building in Beirut, which looks like a war zone.
“It’s unclear right now what exactly caused this explosion,” Fox News Channel’s foreign correspondent Trey Yingst told “Fox & Friends” Friday, noting that Pentagon officials have said they do not believe this was any sort of outside incident and looks to be an accident.
“You see a lot of Lebanese officials today trying to put the blame on others,” added Yingst, who is based in Jerusalem. “No one wants to be responsible for the tragedy that unfolded.”
An investigation has been started by the government, which has come under mounting criticism after many Lebanese blamed the catastrophe on negligence and corruption.
French and Russian rescue teams with dogs continued to search the port area on Friday, a day after French President Emmanuel Macron visited the site.
“People are emotionally destroyed, even if they’re physically OK, they’re emotionally destroyed but coming to such areas where the explosion happened and seeing all these people helping was… it warms the heart and makes us have a little bit of hope again,” one woman, whose apartment owner died in the incident, shared with Fox News.
People remove debris from a house damaged by Tuesday’s explosion in the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. Rescue teams were still searching the rubble of Beirut’s port for bodies on Friday, nearly three days after the massive explosion sent a wave of destruction through Lebanon’s capital. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
The investigation is focusing on port and customs officials, with 16 employees detained and others questioned. But many Lebanese say the responsibilty extends to the country’s top leaders.
Amid a severe economic crisis, massive unemployment and the coronavirus pandemic, the capital was already struggling before the blast.
Macron said France, which has close ties to its former colony, would lead international efforts to provide aid but would not give “blank checks to a system that no longer has the trust of its people.” He said France is sending a team of 22 investigators to help probe the blast.
The U.N. human rights office is calling for an independent investigation, insisting “victims’ calls for accountability must be heard.”
Lebanon is facing the “triple tragedy of the socio-economic crisis, COVID-19 and the ammonium nitrate explosion,” Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said, urging Lebanese leaders to “overcome political stalemates and address the grievances of the population.”
Fox News’ Trey Yingst and the Associated Press contributed to this report.