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President Trump “urged the Government of Lebanon to conduct a full and transparent investigation, in which the United States stands ready to assist,” according to the White House, after he participated in a virtual conference on the international response to the disaster.

The huge chemical explosion that hit Beirut’s port, devastating large parts of the Lebanese capital and claiming at least 158 lives, left a 43-metre (141 foot) deep crater, a security official said Sunday. The huge blast also wounded at least 6,000 people and displaced more than 300,000 from their destroyed or damaged homes.

Washington, DC  US President Donald Trump on Sunday called for Lebanon to conduct a “full and transparent investigation” into the huge explosion that hit Beirut, and expressed his support for protests demanding reform in the country.

Trump “urged the Government of Lebanon to conduct a full and transparent investigation, in which the United States stands ready to assist,” according to the White House, after he participated in a virtual conference on the international response to the disaster.

“The President called for calm in Lebanon and acknowledged the legitimate calls of peaceful protesters for transparency, reform, and accountability,” the White House added.

The Lebanese army said Sunday that hopes have dwindled of finding survivors at the blast site following days of search-and-rescue operations.

The explosion that hit Beirut’s port devastated large parts of the Lebanese capital, claiming over 150 lives and wounding some 6,000 people.

Most Lebanese authorities say Tuesday’s explosion was triggered by a fire in a port warehouse, where a shipment of ammonium nitrate, a chemical that can be used as a fertilizer or as an explosive, had languished for years.

World leaders, international organizations and a seething Lebanese public have pressed for an international probe, but President Michel Aoun has said that calls for such an investigation are a “waste of time.”

Also on Sunday the head of Lebanon’s Maronite church called on the entire government to step down over the explosion, widely seen as proof of the rot at the core of the state.

International probe

The Maronite patriarch, Bechara Boutros al-Rai, joined the chorus of people pressing Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s cabinet to step down over the explosion, which he said could be “described as a crime against humanity”.

“It is not enough for a lawmaker to resign here, or a minister to resign there,” Rai said in a Sunday sermon. “It is necessary, out of sensitivity to the feelings of the Lebanese and the immense responsibility required, for the entire government to resign, because it is incapable of moving the country forward.”

He also joined world leaders, international organizations and the angry Lebanese public by pressing for an international probe into an explosion authorities say was triggered by a fire in a port warehouse, where a huge shipment of hazardous ammonium nitrate had languished for years.

President Michel Aoun on Friday rejected calls for an international investigation, which he said would “dilute the truth.” He reiterated his stance on Sunday, noting that an international probe would “waste time” and urging Lebanon’s judiciary to conduct a swift investigation.

Aoun’s credibility following the explosion suffered greatly and specially within the Christian community , since he was very well aware of the danger of the Ammonium Nitrate that was stored at hanger # 12 at the port . Several predominantly Christian neighborhoods were destroyed by the blast , since the port is right in the center of the capital Beirut .

AFP

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