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Live Reporting

Edited by Robert Greenall

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all from us for now

    Greek rescue workers search amid the rubble three days after explosions that hit Beirut port, in Beirut, Lebanon, 07 August 2020.

    We're ending our live coverage of the fallout from the Lebanon explosion, but you can keep up with all the latest developments on the BBC News website and across radio and TV.

    Here's a quick recap of some of the biggest updates from today:

    • The United Nations has warned of a humanitarian crisis resulting from the disaster
    • The death toll from Tuesday's explosion has risen to 154 and about 120 people remain in a critical condition, according to official data
    • Rescue workers are still searching for dozens of missing people
    • About 5,000 were injured and 300,000 made homeless by the blast
    • Lebanese President Michel Aoun has rejected calls for an international investigation
    • Many in Lebanon blame government negligence for the explosion and BBC journalist Mohamed Madi says "shock is beginning to turn into anger"
    • Several local media channels are boycotting speeches from political figures in protest

    Today's live coverage was brought to you by Robert Greenall, Thomas Spender, Yaroslav Lukov, George Wright and Alice Cuddy

  2. Tourists travel to blast site

    The Fayed family
    Image caption: The Fayed family

    Some tourists are travelling to witness the fallout for themselves.

    BBC Arabic correspondent Carine Torbey met a family who had travelled for more than two hours from Bekaa in Lebanon to witness the devastation.

    “We are heartbroken. We came from Bekaa to share the feeling with our fellow Lebanese families in Beirut. We want to share their pain and see it with our own eyes,” Safaa Fayed said.

  3. Dozens of Syrians among dead in Beirut - reports

    Media reports say that 38 Syrians and two Egyptians were among foreign nationals who died in Tuesday's blast.

    At least four migrant workers from Bangladesh, as well as two citizens of the Philippines and one Ethiopian were also killed, reports say.

    French architect Jean-Marc Bonfils, involved in rebuilding Beirut after the civil war, and a German diplomat were among the first fatalities to be announced.

  4. President Aoun 'ordered removal of storage at port'

    BBC Arabic's Rami Ruhayem has been following Lebanese President Michel Aoun's extensive news conference on Tuesday's explosion.

    He tweets (in Arabic) that Mr Aoun explained how he had received information "about the storage at the port" on 20 July and immediately ordered the Supreme Defence Council to remove it.

  5. Lebanese president rejects international probe

    President Aoun met his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, on Thursday
    Image caption: President Aoun, right, met his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, on Thursday

    Lebanon President Michel Aoun has rejected calls for an international investigation into the explosion.

    Questioned by a journalist as to whether he was against an international investigation, the president replied "of course", adding that such a probe "would dilute the truth".

    It comes as several local media channels have said they will continue to boycott all speeches from political figures in protest against the fallout of the blast.

    One of the country's biggest news channels, LBC Lebanon, refrained from broadcasting the president's speech today, BBC Beirut correspondent Carine Torbey reports.

    The channel will also refrain from broadcasting a speech by the Hezbollah leader, Hasan Nasrallah.

  6. US pledges more than $15m in food and medicine

    A Lebanese soldier inspects a damaged car three days after explosions that hit Beirut port, in Beirut, Lebanon, 07 August 2020.
    Image caption: Several countries have also pledged support to rescue and reconstruction efforts

    The United States says it is providing more than $15m (£11.5m) in "humanitarian assistance" to Lebanon following this week's explosion.

    In a statement, its international aid agency USAID said the money would go towards food and medical supplies.

    It will amount to three months' worth of food for 50,000 people, and three months' worth of medicine for 60,000 people, it said.

    "We stand with the people of Lebanon as they seek relief and accountability in this difficult time," USAID added in a statement.

    Numerous other countries have also offered support to Lebanon following the explosion, including money and manpower for rescue and reconstruction efforts.

    The UK earlier this week promised a £5m aid package.

  7. How one Beirut street cleared the debris

    BBC OS

    Beirut's Armenia street after the explosion on 4 August 2020
    Image caption: Armenia street after the blast was like "a scene from a disaster movie", said Nadia Hardman

    Armenia street, a short walk away from the devastated port of Beirut, has gained attention online for before-and-after photos showing residents coming together to clear the destruction there.

    Nadia Hardman lives on the street, about 400m (1,312ft) from where the explosion happened.

    “I arrived an hour or two after to the devastation of our building,” she told BBC OS on World Service radio.

    "It was like a scene from a disaster movie. My living room door was in the kitchen, the kitchen door was in the hallway, shattered glass everywhere.”

    But when she came down from her flat the next day, she was shocked to find that the street - which is lined with restaurants, shops and bars - was clean.

    Beirut's Armenia street after the clean-up
    Image caption: Armenia street after the clean-up

    Volunteers - both residents of the street and those from other parts of Lebanon - had come together to sweep away rubble.

    Hussein Zreik travelled from Baalbek, about 70km (43 miles) north-east of Beirut, to help.

    He warned that while rubble had been cleared, there was still structural damage to many of the buildings.

    "There are some buildings that collapsed, and now we think there will be more than 10 others that will collapse.

    "We’ve contacted someone from the government telling them to offer help. But the government is not offering anything to anyone. We’ve been told that they didn’t even pass by [Armenia street]," Mr Zreik said.

  8. Blast 'highlights negligence' - former foreign minister

    Nassif Hitti announces his resignation on Monday
    Image caption: Nassif Hitti announces his resignation on Monday

    Nassif Hitti was Lebanon's minister for foreign affairs until he resigned on Monday - a day before the Beirut blast - warning that the country was becoming a failed state.

    He accused the government of a lack of will to enact the reforms called for by the Lebanese people and the international community.

    Speaking to the BBC, he said the devastating explosion was a wake-up call for the Lebanese people.

    "The Beirut blast reveals the kind of structural corruption, negligence, personalised politics, lack of responsibility and lack of accountability of the Lebanese system," he said.

    "This tragedy is an indicator, unfortunately, of the crisis we have - that we have to stop it and start [anew]."

  9. Russian captain recalls journey that led to deadly cargo being impounded

    Boris Prokoshev (R), captain of cargo vessel Rhosus, and boatswain Boris Musinchak pose next to a freight hold loaded with ammonium nitrate in the port of Beirut, Lebanon - summer 2014.
    Image caption: Boris Prokoshev (right) says the ship went to Beirut to pick up road-building equipment

    The Russian captain of the ship whose cargo is thought to have caused this week's explosion has spoken to the BBC's Sarah Rainsford about how it came to be impounded in Beirut in 2013.

    Boris Prokoshev said the Rhosus was travelling with "2,750 one-tonne bags" of ammonium nitrate on board - a cargo he described as "dangerous, but not so dangerous you can’t transport it".

    After taking over the vessel in Turkey, he said he was told to travel to Beirut to pick up road-building equipment, but found that it was too heavy to get on board.

    "The ship’s hatches buckled. They were rusty, old. So we couldn’t take it. I refused," he recalled.

    Lebanese authorities impounded the ship for non-payment of port fees and a fine for failing to collect the extra cargo.

    "They knew what we had on board," he said of the ammonium nitrate. "I’d informed them and I sent them scans of the papers for the cargo."

    With the ship impounded, Mr Prokoshev said he and three crew members were forced to remain on board for 10 months, before the case was resolved through the courts.

    "When we went, the ship was fine, in good condition. We closed all the compartments, locked them and handed the keys to immigration at the port," the captain said.

    He did not learn until later that the cargo had been unloaded and the vessel had sunk.

    Captain Boris Prokoshev and crew members demand their release from the Rhosus in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, in 2014.
    Image caption: Boris Prokoshev and some of his crew remained on the impounded vessel for months
  10. Newspaper silenced by blast

    Julian Hajj

    BBC Arabic

    Annahar building

    Ruined in the blast, this building is home to Annahar, one of Lebanon's most prominent daily newspapers.

    Fifteen of the paper's journalists were injured in the explosion. For perhaps the first time in its 87-year history, the paper has not published since Tuesday.

  11. Hezbollah stored ammonium nitrate in Germany

    The German Office for the Protection of the Constitution has confirmed media reports that the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah stored quantities of ammonium nitrate in a warehouse in southern Germany.

    The office told Die Zeit newspaper that so-called cold packs containing material including ammonium nitrate had been discovered in 2016 and had then been taken out of the country.

    "The stored cold packs were taken out of the country in 2016. There is no indication that the storage of these cold packs has any connection to the warehouse in Beirut port," the office said in a statement.

    Terrorism expert Michael Ortmann was quoted by German media as saying several hundred kilograms of ammonium nitrate had been stored in Germany.

    Media reports say the Israeli secret service Mossad alerted the German authorities to the existence of the warehouse earlier this year as well as giving further information about the group's activity in Germany. Germany banned the group in April.

    Germany's interior ministry has refused to give further details, citing the need to protect active investigations.

  12. 'Shock is turning to anger'

    BBC journalist Mohamed Madi is on the ground in Beirut as anger begins to surface among many locals.

    "Shock is beginning to turn into anger in Beirut," he writes. "As hope fades for survivors, families of the dead and missing as well as ordinary Beirutis are now starting to turn their attention to what's next.

    "Many want to make Saturday a day of national protest - not only for this tragedy, but for what they see as decades of government ineptitude."

    View more on twitter
  13. Beirut explosion: Before-and-after images

    Satellite and aerial images show the extent of the Beirut port explosion that ripped through the Lebanese city on Tuesday.

    Below are pictures of the port taken in 2019 and 5 August 2020, a day after the blast.

    Beirut city port. Photo: 22 August 2019
    Beirut city port. Photo: 5 August 2020

    Aid agencies estimate that around 300,000 people have been left homeless by the explosion and there are fears of food and medicine shortages.

    Read our full story here

  14. Photos show damage to hospital near blast site

    st georges hospital

    These pictures show damage to the St George's Hospital in Achrafiyeh district near the port that has put the facility out of action entirely.

    The blast left the hospital, one of the oldest in the city, with collapsed ceilings and beds covered in broken glass.

    Staff evacuated the hospital on Tuesday night and this included the transfer of 20 patients who were being treated for Covid-19, AFP quoted hospital chief Eid Azar as saying.

    Patients had to be carried down flights of stairs because the lifts were no longer working, the hospital courtyard was turned into a field clinic and nurses applied stitches by the light of their cellphones, he said.

    A number of hospital staff members were wounded in the blast, Mr Azar said.

    st george's
    hospital
  15. Death toll rises to 154

    The death toll from Tuesday's explosion has risen to 154, Lebanon's official National News Agency (NNA) quoted the health minister as saying.

    About 120 people remain in critical condition. Many of them require complex surgery after being injured by glass shards, Minister of Public Health Hamad Hassan said.

  16. What is ammonium nitrate?

    An ammonium nitrate explosion can release toxic gases
    Image caption: An ammonium nitrate explosion can release toxic gases

    Ammonium nitrate - the substance blamed for Tuesday's explosion - is a crystal-like white solid which is made in large industrial quantities. Its biggest use is as a source of nitrogen for fertiliser, but it is also used to create explosives for mining.

    "You won't just find ammonium nitrate in the ground," explains Andrea Sella, professor of chemistry at University College London. That's because it's synthetic, made by reacting ammonia with nitric acid, he says.

    Ammonium nitrate is made all over the world and is relatively cheap to buy. But storing it can be a problem, and it has been associated with serious industrial accidents in the past.

    Read more here

  17. 'Blood is on politicians' hands'

    Rayane Awkal

    Beirut resident Rayane Awkal has told the BBC she was meeting a friend in a coffee shop in the Gemmazye area when the blast happened.

    She said the sound was like that of a plane and then "everything was shattered, there was glass on the floor".

    “All of a sudden my friend started screaming 'My leg, my leg!' And I look down and I see her leg split near her knee and bleeding."

    Rayane said they somehow managed to go to a nearby hospital where they saw many injured people.

    "There was blood everywhere, and we were told they weren’t admitting anyone."

    Three hospitals refused to treat her friend but eventually she "got stitched" in a hospital outside the capital.

    "I’m very fortunate that miraculously I got out safe, my parents are safe," Rayane said.

    But she added: "I’m very angry as a citizen because I feel nobody is listening to us.

    "We are just fed lies after lies by this corrupted system, by corrupted politicians who are just trying to buy time to try to get themselves out of this mess.

    "Because it is their mess, their lies and blood is on their hands – everyone who has died, everyone who got injured, every last - business, every last house - it’s on them because of their mismanagement and because of everything they have done wrong.”

  18. 'Incredible spirit' as huge clean-up continues

    People help clear up in Beirut

    Members of the public are turning out in the their droves to help with the huge clean up in Beirut.

    Andrew, 18, and his friends are helping to clean the areas of Mar Mikhael, Gemmayze and Geitawi.

    "Although this is a very saddening period Lebanon is passing through, a lot of the people present have made the atmosphere jolly, almost celebratory," he tells the BBC.

    "A lot of people are coming every single day, bringing their own cleaning supplies with them - brooms, plastic bags, gloves and such. The ones that aren't cleaning have set up booths for things like first aid, offering food and water, and even shade to rest."

    Lina Sinjab, BBC Middle East correspondent, is also on the ground in Beirut.

    "I am at Gemmayzeh street - the one that saw most damage after the explosion. The street is filled with volunteers with their cleaning equipment to help clear debris and rubble," she says.

    "Incredible spirit after such a shock and traumatic experience."

  19. More bodies found as search continues

    A still from Russia's emergencies ministry shows a Russian rescuer with a sniffer dog searching for survivors in Beirut
    Image caption: A Russian rescuer with a sniffer dog searches for survivors in Beirut

    Four more bodies have been recovered in the past 24 hours by French rescuers, as a big international search operation continues at Beirut's devastated port.

    Near the disembowelled silos at the port, Russian rescuers were ankle-deep in corn, as excavators removed mangled shipping containers, the AFP news agency reports.

    It says an eerie sense of calm filled the once-bustling port, reduced to an enormous scrapyard. The only sounds are those of heavy machinery cutting through forests of twisted iron rods and mountains of concrete rubble to clear a path for the rescuers.

  20. 'We lost hope'

    Tom Bateman

    BBC Middle East correspondent

    Entrance to Nabil's hospital

    We take a walk at dawn through a shattered city.

    Glass and rubble from destroyed apartments is now piling up on street corners, sometimes spreading into the roads.The devastation runs from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.

    Closer to the blast site is Gemmayzeh district. We stumble upon Nabil el-Alam standing outside the ruins of his hospital, where he is deputy director. The Rosary Sisters site was built only four years ago, and was full with patients and staff when the explosion happened a few blocks away.

    Nabil tells me a staff member was killed and many patients hurt in the blast. “When I heard the explosion I came here directly and I saw the hospital, all destroyed. So we worked to help the people,” he said.

    He wasn’t in his office at the time, and he thanks God - it was completely destroyed and he would have been killed, he says. Nabil fights back tears. “All the [patients] were in shock, all with injuries. We tried to help them, to transfer them to other hospitals.

    “We lost the hospital. We lost our jobs. We lost hope”.