Lebanese President Says There’s Possibility Of ‘External Interference’ In Beirut Explosion
Lebanon’s president said there would be an investigation into whether the deadly explosion earlier in the week was caused by “external interference,” numerous sources reported.
President Michel Aoun told local media that the probe would look into whether the explosion was a result of outside interference, or whether it was due to negligence or an accident, Reuters reported.
“The cause has not been determined yet. There is a possibility of external interference through a rocket or bomb or other act,” President Michel Aoun told local media according to Reuters.
Lebanese officials believe the blast was caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, which can be used for fertilizer or for making bombs. It was stored in a warehouse at Beirut’s port for at least 6 years, and customs officials reportedly warned of the dangers the materials posed, although no actions were taken to remove them.
But Aoun said Friday that an investigation had yet to identify the cause, and rejected calls for an international inquiry into the blast that killed more than 150 people and injured roughly 5,000, according to Financial Times.
Civil rights organizations and international rights groups were among those urging Lebanon to hold a transparent, international investigation, but the judiciary and military police are leading it. (RELATED: Lebanese Officials Ordered Under House Arrest During Investigation Of Port Explosion That Devastated Beirut)
Most evidence collected the days following the Tuesday explosion have made the cause appear to have been negligence.
Officials have estimated the blast caused losses amounting to $15 million, a financial burden Lebanon is unequipped to manage as it already faces financial crisis and a plummeting currency.
Dozens of people remain missing as locals and international aid volunteers help clean up the streets, strewn with broken glass and debris from buildings.
“I lived through part of the civil war. I saw people being shot in front of me. But never has there been such a horror,” Dr. Assem Al Hajj at Beirut’s Clemenceau hospital, told Reuters.