A Beirut judge has ordered the detention of the director of Lebanese customs and a port director, after the massive blast which ripped through the capital city’s port. This is according to a report by the Lebanese National News agency.
Tuesday’s explosion killed 154 people and injured more than 4,000, according to the Health Ministry, with many still missing.
Lebanese customs boss Badri Daher, his predecessor, Shafik Merhi, and port director Hassan Kuraitim will reportedly be kept in detention as long as investigations into the disaster continue.
On Thursday, 16 people were detained in connection with the blast. Rescue workers have struggled to remove large chunks of debris in the search for survivors and victims.
“Due to the massive damage we are seeing, we have doubts there are survivors, but we still have hope,” one rescue worker told dpa.
The Lebanese Red Cross believes there are still 100 people missing, most of whom were working at the port.
“We are doing our best as we hope to find people alive and trapped, but all we have found so far are unrecognisable remains,” said a rescue worker who said he had been working non-stop for the past 48 hours.
A dpa photographer who managed to enter the area described the scene as “catastrophic.” “For the most part, nothing is left to see of Beirut port,” he said.
Hundreds of damaged cars, containers and buildings were flattened by the massive blast.
Georgia Pfleiderer, a media officer from the German technical relief organisation THW, told dpa that “the damage is immense. The buildings … are all in ruins.”
Cranes and bulldozers on Friday were attempting to move away large pieces of debris from the hangar that is believed to have housed the 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that blew up on Tuesday.
The dangerous material had been stored there for years.
A Health Ministry official said the toll could rise further as many of those injured were in intensive care.
Some 5,000 people were injured in the explosion.
The blast forced more than 250,000 out of their damaged homes.
Angry residents, including relatives of people who are still missing at the port, stood at the site shouting: “This government is a failure!”
“The blast took place on Tuesday and they are still working slowly.
“If people were alive and trapped under the rubble they are dead by now,” one protester said.
President Michel Aoun vowed that the government would find out what caused the blast and that “the investigation will include direct officials.”
Aoun pointed out that the incident could have been caused “by negligence or external interference by a missile or bomb.”
Bahaa Hariri, brother of former prime minister Saad Hariri, pointed an accusing finger at the Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah movement.
“Hezbollah is in charge of the port and the warehouse where ammonium nitrate was stored and nothing enters and exits the port or airport without them knowing,” he said.
Later on Friday, Hezbollah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah rejected the accusation that his group controls Beirut’s port.
“I declare and categorically deny that there is anything for us in the port: no arms warehouse, no rocket, no gun, no bomb, no bullet, no nitrate,” Nasrallah said in a televised address.
“Absolutely, (there is) nothing at present, the past or in the future. Investigations will prove it,” he added.
“Some are seeking to tell the Lebanese that Hezbollah is to blame (for the port blast).
“This is a false accusation,” Nasrallah said.
The massive explosion destroyed the homes of between 80,000 and 100,000 children, according to a preliminary estimate by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
More than 120 schools in Beirut were damaged and need to be repaired quickly before the start of the new school year, UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado told a press conference in Geneva.
“The (humanitarian) needs are immediate and they are huge,” she said.
World Food Programme (WFP) spokeswoman Elizabeth Byrs warned that the explosion in Beirut’s harbour could further limit food supplies and increase retail prices in a country that is already suffering from an economic crisis, as well as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Ember Months: FRSC urges motorists to drive patiently, apply controlled-speed
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has advised motorists to be patient and apply controlled-speed on the highways during this Ember-months period.
The FRSC Sector Commander in Enugu State, Mr Ogbonnaya Kalu, gave the advice while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria in Enugu on Saturday.
NAN reports that the Ember-months included the months of September, October, November and December.
According to Kalu, the insinuation that blood sucking demons take over roads during Ember-months period is never true.
“It is human negative attitude that most times lead to increase in crashes and even deaths,’’ he said.
“The major causes of possible increase in road crashes in this period remained human impatient and negligence.
“The human deficiencies stem from impatience and anxiety to meet up personal or group target before the year runs out.
“With impatience and anxiety to meet up target; most motorists care less about other road users and even their own health and body system during this period.
“Another is the negligence of pushing out mechanically deficient vehicles during this time to make more money or returns even at the detriment of passengers and other road users as well,’’ he said.
The sector commander noted that due to the perceived human deficiencies leading to crashes; the command had already embarked on massive road safety education in parks, churches, mosques and public gatherings in the state.
According tp him, as the lead agency on road traffic management and safety; we are all out this season to ensure our people are educated and they are very cautious driving in the not friendly weathers such as rain and harmattan seasons during the Ember-months period.
“Our education also covers the need for motorists and transporters to adhere to the guidelines on COVID-19 prevention as far as vehicular movement of humans and goods are concerned,’’ he said.
He noted that the command would also carry out road audit; vehicular logistic repairs and maintenance for special end of the year and festive operation and improve on joint patrols with sister security agencies.
He said that the corps was determined to reduce crashes in the state to zero level at the end of the Ember Months this year.
Edited By: Felix Ajide
Edo Polls: Ize-Iyamu votes at Ugboko ward 4, commends conduct of Election
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Edo Governorship election on Saturday, Sept. 19 cast his vote at Ugboko ward 4, unit 26, Orhionmwon Local Government Council of the state at about 9: 25 a.m.
The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that Ize-Iyamu joined the queue at his polling unit located at Iguododo Primary school at about 9:20a.m. before casting his vote at about 9: 25a.m.
Speaking to journalists after exercising his franchise, Ize-Iyamu commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the peaceful and smooth electoral process.
“The process is good and going on smoothly; there is no thuggery and violence, the place is peaceful and calm.
“I am happy that INEC has a thermometer to check temperature and they also give out face masks to our people.
“We encourage our people to come out in batches so they can strictly adhere to the COVID-19 protocols of social distances”.
He said he had not been able to get information about the conduct of the election across the state due to the poor network at his voting community.
He expressed optimism that he would emerge victorious in the election saying, “I am confident of victory across the 18 LGAs of the State”.
NAN reports that accreditation and voting commenced simultaneously at Ugboko ward 5, unit 26 at about 8: 46 a.m. amidst the presence of security personnel.
Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Maharazu Ahmed
Edo election: Presiding officers insist on no face masks, no voting
Presiding Officers in the Edo governorship election have said that no electorate will be allowed to vote without wearing a face mask in compliance with the COVID-19 safety protocols.
They also insist on adherence to social distancing as provided in the guidelines for the conduct of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Mr Oyesanmi Ezekiel, the presiding officer at Central Primary School, Iruekpen, told the eligible voters to wear face masks before voting in units 3, 4 and 5 at Iruekpen.
As part of efforts to ensure compliance with social distancing, Ezekiel marked out areas that the electorate could stand before being allowed to vote.
“The medicated spirit will be used to clean the card reader as well as fingers of each voters before voting,” he said.
The situation, however, was not the same at Ward 5 Uniit 2, where voters did not observe INEC guidelines on social distancing for the poll.
But in Emaudo Ward 4, Unit 14, Esan West Local Government, both voters and INEC officials complied with the protocols.
Hawkers of face masks used the no face masks no voting to make quick money across the various polling units visited.
The face masks sellers who sell each mask for N100, witnessed high patronage from voters who came without one.
Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Kayode Olaitan
COVID-19: NCDC announces 221 new cases, total infections rise to 56,956
The NCDC made this known on its official twitter handle on Friday.
According to it, the new cases are confirmed from 18 states in the country.
The new infections brought the total number of confirmed cases to 56,956 in Nigeria.
The public health agency said that Lagos had 59, the highest number of cases, followed by Abia with 46 cases and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), 22.
Among others were; Rivers, 11, Bauchi, 7, Benue, Ekiti and Imo, 6 each, Kaduna, Kwara and Ondo, 4 each, Ogun and Osun, 3 each, Bayelsa, Edo and Kano, 1 each.
According to it, those discharged on Friday include 100 community recoveries managed in Oyo State in line with new case management guidelines.
The health agency sadly recorded one more death, which brought the national death toll to 1,094.
It noted that a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC) activated at Level 3 had continued to coordinate the national response activities across the country.
It cautioned that the risk of getting infected with COVID-19 was higher when people did not wear face mask in public places.
“Wear your face mask properly at all times. Adhere to all non-pharmaceutical preventive measures of COVID-19,” it urged Nigerians.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that as the people of Edo State prepared to vote their preferred candidates at the governorship election on Saturday, Sept. 19, NCDC urged all to observe the COVID-19 guidelines recently released.
It noted that relevant stakeholders must take actions that would reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 during the election.
“Ensure there is hand hygiene and temperature checks at the campaign ground, polling stations; providing additional polling stations or booths to ensure physical distancing, with clearly marked floors to enforce spacing on queues.
”Mandating the use of face mask for everyone, regular cleaning of polling stations, tables and other surfaces highly essential because those are the areas that are easy to contract the virus.
”Multiply hand-washing points or alcohol-based hand sanitiser, while staff at the polling units should practice hand hygiene frequently,.”
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu