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Police fire tear gas to break up Beirut protest

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Thousands of people poured into Beirut’s main square hanging up symbolic nooses that they say officials should be hanged on over this week’s blast amid clashes between protesters and riot police near parliament.

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr at the scene said civil society groups have been calling on people to return to the streets, saying “enough is enough”.

“There’s a lot of anger, a lot of rage, people are calling for revenge and justice. They say today is about justice for the victims of Tuesday’s blast,” Khodr said. “They want politicians hanged, they want politicians executed.”

According to Khodr, there is a sense of defiance among the demonstrators despite security forces using “excessive amounts of tear gas” in a bid to disperse them.

“People have pushed back, there has been running battles as protesters try to storm parliament building.”

The death toll from Tuesday’s catastrophic explosion has risen to 158, the Lebanese health ministry media office said.

The number of people injured exceeds 6,000 and 21 are still reported missing, it said.

Lebanese riot police fired tear gas at demonstrators trying to break through a barrier to get to the parliament building in central Beirut.

Aoun and Johnson agree to work on recovery from blast

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Lebanese President Michel Aoun discussed Lebanon’s urgent humanitarian, medical and reconstruction needs following Tuesday’s devastating blast at Beirut port.

“President Aoun thanked the UK for the support provided to date, including the release of five million pounds ($6.5m) in emergency funding and deployment of HMS Enterprise,” Johnson’s office said in a statement.

“With Lebanon facing threats from a financial crisis, coronavirus and the effects of this tragic blast, they agreed to work with international partners to ensure the country’s long-term recovery and rehabilitation.”

Lebanon’s Kataeb Party: Three MPs resigning from parliament
Lebanon’s Kataeb Party, a Christian group which opposes the government supported by the Iran-backed Hezbollah, announced the resignation of its three MPs from parliament.

The decision was announced by party chief Samy Gemayel during the funeral of a leading member of the group who died in the catastrophic explosion at the port of Beirut on Tuesday, which destroyed parts of the Lebanese capital.

“The Kataeb MPs have decided… to move to confrontation for the sake of a free, sovereign, independent Lebanon,” he said. “I invite all honourable (MPs) to resign so that the people can decide who will govern them, without anybody imposing anything to them.”

At least 43 Syrians among people killed in Beirut blast: Al Mayadeen
At least 43 Syrian nationals were among those killed in a massive explosion in the port of Beirut on Tuesday that destroyed parts of the Lebanese capital, Al-Mayadeen TV channel said on Saturday, citing the Syrian embassy in Lebanon.

Al Mayadeen is a Lebanon-based channel close to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Independent MP to resign from ‘mafia’ parliament
Paula Yacoubian, a Lebanese independent member of parliament, said that she will resign later in the day.

“There’s no point being in parliament anymore, it is a mafia. And someone should show them how to do it,” she told Al Jazeera.

Wife of Dutch envoy to Lebanon dies after being hurt in Beirut blast
The wife of the Dutch ambassador to Lebanon died on Saturday after being seriously injured in the massive explosion that tore through Beirut’s port, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said.

Hedwig Waltmans-Molier, 55, was injured by the explosion as she stood next to her husband, ambassador Jan Waltmans, in the living room of their house in Beirut, the ministry said.

Tuesday’s blast caused extensive damage to the Dutch embassy, injuring four other people connected to it.

Turkey says it is ready to help rebuild port of Beirut
Turkey is ready to help rebuild the port of Beirut, which was destroyed by a massive blast on Tuesday, Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay said during a visit to Lebanon.

Turkey’s port of Mersin, on the Mediterranean, is ready to assist the port of Beirut, he said, without elaborating.

France’s Macron to co-host Lebanon donor conference
French President Emmanuel Macron will host a donor conference for Lebanon via video-link on Sunday, his office said, as countries mobilise to help rebuild Beirut after this week’s massive blast.

The conference, which will be co-chaired by the United Nations, will seek pledges from participants including US President Donald Trump. It is expected to decide how to distribute the aid so it benefits the people directly.

Macron, who visited Beirut on Thursday, promised angry Lebanese crowds that aid to rebuild the city ravaged by Tuesday’s huge explosion would not fall into “corrupt hands”.

Arab League ‘ready’ to mobilise efforts to help Lebanon
Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Saturday he would seek to mobilise Arab efforts to provide support to Lebanon after a massive explosion destroyed parts of its capital Beirut this week.

Speaking after a meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, he also said reporters that the Cairo-based league of Arab states was ready to assist the investigation into the blast.

“We are ready to help with all our means,” he said.

More than 60 still missing after Beirut mega-blast: ministry
More than 60 people are still missing in Beirut, four days after a massive explosion at the port left more than 150 people dead, a health ministry official said.

“The number of dead is 154, including 25 who have not yet been identified,” the official told the AFP news agency. “In addition, we have more than 60 people still missing.”

The health minister said on Friday that at least 120 of the 5,000 people who were injured on Tuesday are in critical condition.

WHO worried Beirut’s coronavirus outbreak could get worse
The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is scrambling to deploy $1.7m worth of personal protective equipment to Beirut after 17 containers filled will supplies and equipment for the COVID-19 response were destroyed in the city’s devastating chemical explosion.

Dr Rick Brennan, the WHO emergencies director for the eastern Mediterranean region, said 6,100 people were injured in the blast and stressed the importance of now balancing the coronavirus response with pressing immediate needs such as trauma care and psychosocial support.

“This massive extra burden of injured people, displaced people, means that resources are going to have to be focused on that response – and we worry that an already overburdened health system and the Ministry of Health is now going to be overstretched to meet the needs of both the COVID response and the emergency response.”

Trump to join aid conference call for Beirut
US President Donald Trump has said he will join a conference call with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and other world leaders on Sunday to discuss aid to Lebanon.

Trump, who spoke earlier with the conference’s organiser, Frace’s President Emmanuel Macron, tweeted that “everyone wants to help!”

“We will be having a conference call on Sunday with President Macron, leaders of Lebanon, and leaders from various other parts of the world,” he said.

He said he told Aoun that three large US aircraft were en route to Lebanon to deliver medical supplies, food, water and medical personnel.

Source: Al Jazeera

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