Anger as at least 28 killed in Lebanon fuel tank explosion

Anger as at least 28 killed in  Lebanon fuel tank explosion
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Lebanese army soldiers, civil defense members and rescuers at the site of a fuel tanker explosion in Akkar in northern Lebanon on August 15, 2021. (Reuters)
Anger as at least 28 killed in  Lebanon fuel tank explosion
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Lebanese army soldiers, civil defense members and rescuers at the site of a fuel tanker explosion in Akkar in northern Lebanon on August 15, 2021. (Reuters)
Anger as at least 28 killed in  Lebanon fuel tank explosion
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Rescuers transport an injured person during a fuel tanker explosion to a hospital in Tripoli, northern Lebanon on Aug. 15, 2021. (Reuters)
Anger as at least 28 killed in  Lebanon fuel tank explosion
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A man, who was injured during a fuel tanker explosion in Akkar, receives treatment in a hospital in Tripoli, northern Lebanon on Aug. 15, 2021. (Reuters)
Screengrab from video shared on Twitter. (Courtesy: @HayelKhazaal)
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Screengrab from video shared on Twitter. (Courtesy: @HayelKhazaal)
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Updated 16 August 2021

Anger as at least 28 killed in Lebanon fuel tank explosion

Anger as at least 28 killed in  Lebanon fuel tank explosion
  • New misery on a country already suffering from economic crisis and severe fuel shortages
  • Hospitals in Akkar said they had to turn away many injured because they were ill-equipped to treat severe burn

BEIRUT: At least 28 people were killed in an horrific gas tanker explosion in Lebanon early on Sunday morning, overwhelming hospitals and prompting emergency appeals for blood donations.

The incident took place at around 2 a.m. in Akkar, one of the poorest areas in northern Lebanon, and around 80 people were injured.
About 200 were nearby when the tank exploded, with Lebanese soldiers among the casualties.
The tragedy heaps fresh misery on a nation already beset by a severe economic crisis and fuel shortages that have crippled hospitals and caused lengthy power cuts.
On Saturday, the army had seized the tank, which contained 18,000 liters of subsidized gasoline, and was in the process of handing out fuel to residents.
There were appeals to the international community to help treat the wounded.  Health Minister Hamad Hassan said the burns were “more than what the Lebanese hospitals can handle.”
Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Iraq and Turkey responded to the appeal to send emergency health aid or to receive the injured at their local hospitals.
Maj. Gen. Mohamed Kheir, secretary-general of the Higher Relief Committee, called on NGOs and international organizations in Lebanon to provide hospitals with “all the medicine, IV fluds, and medical supplies to treat 2nd and 3rd degree burns.”

There are different accounts about what caused the explosion.
Altalil town, where the seized tank was hidden, is over 40 km away from the illegal Al-Qasr border crossing in northern Bekaa, on the Lebanese-Syrian border. It was hidden on land belonging to Georges Rashid Ibrahim.

BACKGROUND

The tragedy heaps fresh misery on a nation already beset by a severe economic crisis and fuel shortages that have crippled hospitals and caused lengthy power cuts.

Some survivors said people had rushed to get free gasoline from the tank and, as a result of the chaos and overcrowding, an angry man ignited a lighter.
“The soil was covered with gasoline, which caused a massive explosion that blew people tens of meters away.”
Other survivors said that, seeing people take all the fuel, “Ibrahim’s son got very angry ... he fired shots near the tank, which caused a fire and led to this disaster.”
Some families took the injured to hospitals on motorcycles. Video clips on social media showed people set alight by the explosion.
Critical cases were taken by helicopter to specialist hospitals in Tripoli and Beirut.
Angry residents in Akkar gathered near the fuel tank owner’s house and torched the vehicles parked outside. They also threatened to burn down the house of Assaad Dergham, a Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) MP.
Dergham’s house is 500 meters away from Ibrahim’s house. But the lawmaker denied knowing the landowner and any ties that connected him to the FPM.
Some information indicated that Ibrahim was connected to a resident from Wadi Khaled called Ali Al-Faraj, who helped him to smuggle the subsidized gasoline into Syria.
“What we know in the area and are sure of is that Georges Rashid Ibrahim is close to Ali Al-Faraj, who is known for his smuggling operations into Syria and deals on the black market, and who was arrested by the security bodies three months ago over these operations,” Wadi Khaled’s Ahmed Al-Sayyed told Arab News.
“Ibrahim operates under the pretext of transporting pebbles and sand from his rock drill factory near his house, via trucks and other vehicles, to Wadi Khaled, which is located 20 km from Altalil.
“He unloads the diesel and gasoline shipments from the vehicles, leaving Al-Faraj the task to transport them to Al-Qasr border crossing in Al-Hermel. Al-Qasr is an illegal border crossing located 20 kilometers away from Wadi Khaled. Families from the Bekaa Valley, covered by Hezbollah, handle their smuggling into Syria, for large sums of money.”
Al-Sayyed confirmed Ibrahim’s ties with the FPM.
“I know him very well. During the latest electoral campaign, he came to Wadi Khaled and met with us and said he was ready to give free bags of pebbles and sand to those who vote for the FPM’s candidate, Assaad Dergham. And this is exactly what happened. Smuggling operations are not carried out through the northern borders because, during the Talkalakh battle, the area was planted with landmines.
“Also, due to the large river there, the area cannot be crossed by car, in addition to an army checkpoint on the entrance of Wadi Khaled, which prevents any vehicle carrying large quantities of gasoline and diesel from passing. That is why the smuggling is done through the border crossings of Hermel.”
The Akkar disaster revealed the state’s inability to provide medical supplies and healthcare, while also providing an opportunity for politicians to point fingers at one another about Lebanon’s deteriorating condition.

President Michel Aoun said he had presented a report to the Higher Defense Council about activities of extremist groups “aiming to create chaos and destabilize the security.”
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who had a months-long dispute with the president about the failure to form a new government, hit back.
He said: “How does the president allow himself to jump over people’s pain to talk about extremist groups’ activities aiming to destabilize security in the north? How does his son-in-law Gebran Bassil accuse Akkar of becoming outside the state due to fuel gangs and claim that Akkar should be declared a military zone?”
He also addressed the president directly: “No. Akkar is not Kandahar and is not outside the state. You have become outside the state and a president of the republic of the Aounist movement.”

 


Emir says Qatar is ready to contribute to every effort to mediate between Russia and Ukraine

Emir says Qatar is ready to contribute to every effort to mediate between Russia and Ukraine
Updated 33 min 33 sec ago

Emir says Qatar is ready to contribute to every effort to mediate between Russia and Ukraine

Emir says Qatar is ready to contribute to every effort to mediate between Russia and Ukraine
  • Sheikh Tamim criticized governments for double standards on value of people based on religion and race
  • Emir hit out at what he called unprecedented attacks on Qatar becoming first Arab country to host FIFA World Cup

LONDON: Qatar’s emir said on Monday that he is ready to contribute to every international and regional effort to find an immediate peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine.
Addressing the World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said that solving disputes through aggression is on the rise, and that he is in touch with all parties concerned in the Ukrainian crisis.
“We should never give up trying to bring parties together. As long as we believe our efforts could save even a single life, our attempts to mediate will be worth it,” the emir said.
He expressed sympathy with the millions of people who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict regardless of their race and religion.
“We consider the value of each European life to be just as precious as someone from our region.
“We stand in solidarity with the millions of innocent refugees who are victims of this European war, and the victims of all other wars taking place right now — victims of every race, nationality and religion. I want us to help all of them.”
Sheikh Tamim also highlighted the suffering of the Palestinian people “who have been occupied for decades with no relief in sight.
“As we rightly apply laser focus to finding a diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis, I hope we can equally give as much attention and effort to resolving all those forgotten or ignored conflicts.
“The most clear example is in Palestine which has been an open wound since the establishment of the United Nations. The escalation in illegal settlement aggression has been relentless, and the same goes for the continued attacks against the Palestinian people” Sheikh Tamim said.
To applause from the audience, the emir paid tribute to veteran Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who was killed in Jenin while covering Israeli raids on a refugee camp in the West Bank on May 11.
“Shireen was covering the suffering of the Palestinian people for decades and our hearts are broken. Her death was just as horrific as the seven journalists killed in Ukraine since March this year, 18 other journalists killed in Palestine since 2000, and many other journalists killed in the line of duty in Iraq, Syria and Yemen,” he said.
The emir criticized governments for displaying double standards on the value of people based on their religion, region or race.
“In the 21st century we should not tolerate these aggressions, and we should not accept a world where governments have double standards about the value of people based on their religion, region or race,” he said.
He also hit out at what he called unprecedented attacks on Qatar becoming the first Arab country to host the FIFA World Cup.
“For decades now, the Middle East has suffered from discrimination,” he said.
“And I have found that such discrimination is largely based on people not knowing us, and in some cases, refusing to get to know us. Even today, there are still people who cannot accept the idea, that an Arab-Muslim country would host a tournament like the World Cup.
“These individuals, including many in positions of influence, have launched attacks, at a pace never seen before,” he said.


Kuwait airport resumes flights after massive dust storm

This picture taken on May 23, 2022 shows an aerial view of a massive dust storm advancing into Kuwait City above Kuwait Universi
This picture taken on May 23, 2022 shows an aerial view of a massive dust storm advancing into Kuwait City above Kuwait Universi
Updated 12 sec ago

Kuwait airport resumes flights after massive dust storm

This picture taken on May 23, 2022 shows an aerial view of a massive dust storm advancing into Kuwait City above Kuwait Universi

LONDON: Kuwait airport on Monday has resumed international flights after halting them for nearly three hours due to a dust wave that has swept across the area.
“The General Administration of Civil Aviation announced the normal return of air traffic at Kuwait International Airport at 5.50 p.m.,” Deputy Director General for Air Navigation Services Imad Al-Jalawi told Kuwait News Agency.
He added that the dates of incoming and outgoing flights have been rescheduled.
The country’s weather conditions were affected by a decrease in visibility due to dust, reaching less than 500 meters in some areas, accompanied
by active winds that reached a speed of 60 kilometers per hour.
Meanwhile, Iraqi authorities also suspended flights at all airports due to the weather conditions, while the Iraqi government also announced a suspension of official working hours.


Senior Israeli lawmaker warns of ‘religious war’ over Jerusalem moves

Senior Israeli lawmaker warns of ‘religious war’ over Jerusalem moves
Updated 23 May 2022

Senior Israeli lawmaker warns of ‘religious war’ over Jerusalem moves

Senior Israeli lawmaker warns of ‘religious war’ over Jerusalem moves
  • Palestinian factions have denounced Israeli moves in Jerusalem’s Old City, the heart of their decades-old conflict

JERUSALEM: A senior Israeli lawmaker said on Monday the country risked “religious war” after a court ruled in favor of Jews who had tried to pray at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and as nationalists planned a march near the flashpoint site.
Palestinian factions have denounced Israeli moves in Jerusalem’s Old City, the heart of their decades-old conflict, and reiterated threats that echoed their warnings in the run-up to the May 2021 war in Gaza.
Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court on Sunday rescinded a restraining order against three Jews who had prayed while visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Jews revere the site as vestige of two ancient temples, but are barred from worship there under an Israeli pact with Muslim authorities. The mosque is Islam’s third-holiest shrine.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said it would appeal the ruling. Bennett, who heads a weak coalition government, must also decide whether to green-light an annual Israeli flag march in the Old City next Sunday.
Ram Ben-Barak, chairman of parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, came out against the lower court ruling and voiced concern about the planned route of the march, which includes the Muslim quarter of the Old City.
“I think that during this sensitive period care must be taken,” he told Kan radio. “We should not, with our own hands, cause a religious war here or all kinds of provocations that are liable to ignite the Middle East.”
The flag march celebrates Israel’s capture of the Old City in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel deems all of Jerusalem its capital — a status not recognized internationally. The Palestinians want to establish their own capital in the city.
Weeks of clashes in East Jerusalem last year, including in the Al-Aqsa compound, helped ignite a war in Gaza last May that killed at least 250 Palestinians and 13 people in Israel.
After months of relative calm, tensions have risen again in recent weeks, leaving many dead, with repeated raids by Israeli forces in the West Bank, and attacks by militants on Israelis.
Police and Palestinians also clashed in the mosque area last month on numerous occasions during the holy month of Ramadan.
Ben-Barak, whose centrist party is in the coalition, predicted that Bennett would wait until the night before the march to decide on its final route to prevent possible conflict.
“It is not always worth paying this price for a demonstration that is all about spectacle and little else.”
Speaking in Gaza, a senior official with Islamic Jihad, Khaled Al-Batsh, said that going ahead with the flag march would be a “message of war” against Palestinians.
“The Palestinians will confront the flag march and the resistance will do all it should to protect the Al Aqsa mosque and the sacred sites,” Batsh said in a statement.


Five dead, scores trapped after building collapses in Iran - State TV

Five dead, scores trapped after building collapses in Iran - State TV
A rescue operation was being carried out, with emergency teams being dispatched from other cities to help. (AFP)
Updated 23 May 2022

Five dead, scores trapped after building collapses in Iran - State TV

Five dead, scores trapped after building collapses in Iran - State TV
  • A rescue operation was being carried out, with emergency teams being dispatched from other cities to help

DUBAI: Five people were killed when a 10-story building in Iran’s southern city of Abadan partly collapsed and rescuers were trying to help at least 80 people left trapped under the rubble, Iranian state TV reported on Monday.
The semi-official Mehr news agency identified the building as a residential-commercial property on Amir Kabir street in the city, which is close to the border with Iraq.
State TV said emergency teams were being dispatched from other cities to help with the rescue operation, with two teams of rescue dogs, a helicopter and seven rescue vehicles already at the scene. It showed footage of angry Abadan residents shouting slogans against the city authorities.
The head of Khuzestan province’s judiciary has ordered an investigation into the building’s collapse, and its owner and the contractor who built it have been arrested, state TV said.


Egypt’s PM holds talks on Brazil economic ties

Egypt’s PM holds talks on Brazil economic ties
Updated 23 May 2022

Egypt’s PM holds talks on Brazil economic ties

Egypt’s PM holds talks on Brazil economic ties
  • Mostafa Madbouly met with officials from Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce
  • Egypt is Brazil’s top trade partner among Arab countries, with volume of nearly $2.6bn

CAIRO: Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly discussed with Osmar Chohfi, president of the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, and its Secretary-General Tamer Mansour, economic ties between the two countries.

Nader Saad, spokesman for Egypt’s Cabinet, said the meeting also reviewed growing ties between Brazil and Arab countries.

Madbouly stressed Cairo’s support for all efforts to bolster economic ties, including proposals related to investment cooperation and the establishment of a Brazilian industrial zone in Egypt.

Egypt is Brazil’s top trade partner among Arab countries, with a trade volume of nearly $2.6 billion.

Khaled Hanafy, secretary-general of the Federation of Arab Chambers of Commerce, who attended the meeting, said Brazil is ready to be a gateway for Egyptian exports to South America, and is willing to invest in Egypt through a Brazilian industrial zone.

Saad said Madbouly was invited to participate in the meetings of the Arab-Brazilian Economic Forum in Sao Paulo in July, under the auspices and presence of Brazil’s president. Brazil’s vice president visited Egypt last September.