People living in Beirut City hold vigil programme to mourn blast victims

People living in Beirut City hold vigil programme to mourn blast victims

People living in Beirut City hold vigil programme to mourn blast victims
People living in Beirut City held vigil programme to mourn the blasted victims in the explosion over the incident that occurred seven days ago.  A crowd stood in silence near the ruins of the city's port as a Muslim call to prayer was broadcast and church bells tolled at 18:09 (15:09 GMT).

That was the exact time when 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in a port warehouse detonated. There has been outrage that so much hazardous material was kept there.

The Lebanese government's resignation on Monday failed to pacify protesters, who clashed with police in central Beirut for a third consecutive night.

Lebanon was already struggling with an unprecedented economic crisis before the disaster, with families pushed into poverty and hunger.

Since October, protesters have been demanding the complete overhaul of the political system, which they blame for government corruption and mismanagement.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab, a university professor who took office in January with the support of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and its allies following the resignation of the previous government, announced his cabinet's resignation in a televised address on Monday night.

He avoided taking responsibility for last week's blast, blaming it on the entrenched political elite.

"Their corruption created this tragedy," he said. "Between us and change stands a thick wall protected by their dirty tactics."

Mr Diab said that his caretaker administration would "follow the will of the people in their demand to hold accountable those responsible for the disaster".

Tom Bateman in Beirut says it is unlikely the mass resignation of the government will remove much heat from the protests, as Lebanon's problems are only deepening.

A new prime minister will have to be chosen using the same system of sectarian politics at the root of many people's complaints, our correspondent adds.

At least 15 medical facilities, including three major hospitals, also sustained partial or heavy structural damage last Tuesday.

The UN has called for additional support to ensure those still functioning can continue to treat the estimated 6,000 people injured by the blast, and also manage the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, a total of 294 new Covid-19 cases were recorded, a new record for Lebanon. "The emergency in Beirut has caused many Covid-19 precautionary measures to be relaxed, raising the prospects of even higher transmission rates and a large caseload in the coming weeks," the UN said.