Beirut: Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said during his visit to Lebanon on Saturday that Turkey is ready to help rebuild the Beirut port, which was destroyed in a massive explosion on Tuesday.
Turkey’s port of Mersin, on the Mediterranean, is ready to assist the port of Beirut, he said, without elaborating.
The blast was apparently caused by the ignition of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used for explosives and fertilizer, that had been stored at the port since it was confiscated from an impounded cargo ship in 2013.
In response to increasing criticism, the government launched an investigation, and many Lebanese blamed the disaster on negligence and corruption.
Search and rescue teams have been sent from several countries to help find survivors of the explosion. Among the people in the rubble near the grain silo is Joe Akiki, a 23-year-old port worker who has been missing since the explosion.
The mission leader, Colonel Tisir Vincent, said a team of 55 French rescuers started working on Thursday and found four bodies. Lebanese firefighters were also working in the demolished port, with bulldozers and excavators stirring among the rubble.
Dozens of people are still missing. At the entrance of the port, a family is waiting for news from relatives.
Due to the explosion, approximately 300,000 people (more than 12% of Beirut’s population) could not return to their homes. The explosion blew up doors and windows throughout the city, leaving many buildings uninhabited. Officials estimate the loss to be between 10 billion and 15 billion U.S. dollars.
Damaged hospitals plagued by the coronavirus pandemic are still struggling to deal with the wounded.
The focus of the investigation was port and customs officials, who detained 16 employees and conducted investigations on others. But many Lebanese say this shows that the decay that penetrates into the political system and extends to the top leadership of the country is greater.
For decades, Lebanon has been ruled by the same political elite, many of whom were former warlords and militia commanders from the 1975-1990 civil war. The ruling faction uses public institutions to accumulate wealth and distribute sponsorships to supporters. Thirty years after the end of the civil war, power outages are still frequent, garbage is often collected, and tap water is largely undrinkable.
Even before the explosion, the country fell into a severe economic crisis, which is widely blamed on the political class. The unemployment rate has soared and the local currency collapse has destroyed many people’s savings, which will make the task of reconstruction after the explosion more difficult.