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Gigantic Explosion In Beirut Kills At Least 78, Injures Thousands

Updated: Aug 5

The Deciport Daily Quick-Look: 05 August 2020

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REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Gigantic explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.

Security // BLUF: An explosion tore through a port and surrounding area in Beirut, Lebanon, killing at least 78 people and injuring nearly 4000.

The gigantic explosion reportedly occurred at or near a warehouse housing 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which had been stored for six years.

Various countries including Israel have offered humanitarian assistance. Israel has stated it had nothing to do with the event.

The death toll is likely to rise, with Lebanese president Michel Aoun commenting that a two-week state of emergency should be declared.

(See Point 4 Below for Further Information)

The Daily Quick-Look for 05 August 2020

The Deciport Daily Quick-Look is your at-a-glance look at several key events and situations around the world over the last 24 hours. Each headline contains the link to its source report.

BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front.

FYSA = For Your Situational Awareness.

1. UNITED STATES, CHINA - Political: China vows retaliation if any U.S. action against journalists

FYSA: China vowed on Tuesday to retaliate if the United States persisted with “hostile action” against Chinese journalists who may be forced to leave in coming days if their U.S. visas are not extended. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at a daily briefing that no Chinese journalist in the United States had been granted a visa extension since the United States, on May 11, limited their stay to 90 days, with an option to extend. “The U.S. has been escalating its actions against Chinese journalists,” Wang told reporters. “The U.S. should immediately correct its mistake and stop its actions. If the U.S. persists, China will take a necessary and legitimate response to safeguard its rights,” he said. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)

2. FRANCE - Security (Health): Second COVID wave highly likely to hit France this year, scientists say

FYSA: A second wave of the coronavirus epidemic is highly likely to hit France in the autumn or winter, the government’s top scientific body warned on Tuesday as authorities seek to contain an increase in new cases over the past two weeks. The warning came as an increasing number of French cities decided to make mask-wearing mandatory in crowded outdoor areas - including, soon, the capital Paris. Since lifting strict lockdowns that reduced infection rates, many European countries are now watching numbers creep back up as restrictions have been eased to limit the economic damage and social mixing has resurged during the holiday season. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)

3. GERMANY, TURKEY - Security (Health), Economic: Germany lifts COVID-19 travel warning for some of Turkey’s top tourism destinations

FYSA: Germany has lifted a warning against traveling to four Turkish seaside provinces with low coronavirus infection rates as part of a deal to help revive tourism between the two countries, the German government said Tuesday. The German foreign ministry said it was dropping warnings against travel to tourism destinations such as Antalya, Izmir, Muğla and Aydın on the Mediterranean, where the coronavirus’s prevalence stood at only five new infections per 100,000 inhabitants over the course of a week. (Daily Sabah. See link in heading for further reading)

4. LEBANON - Security: Massive blast rips through Beirut, killing 78 and injuring thousands

FYSA: A huge explosion in port warehouses near central Beirut killed more than 50 people, injured over 2,750 and sent shockwaves that shattered windows, smashed masonry and shook the ground across the Lebanese capital. Officials said they expected the death toll to rise further after Tuesday’s blast as emergency workers dug through rubble to rescue people and remove the dead. It was the most powerful explosion in years to hit Beirut, which is already reeling from an economic crisis and a surge in coronavirus infections. Lebanon’s interior minister said initial information indicated highly explosive material, seized years ago, that had been stored at the port had blown up. Israel, which has fought several wars with Lebanon, denied any role and offered help. The blast was so big that some residents in the city, where memories of heavy shelling during the 1975 to 1990 civil war live on, thought an earthquake had struck. Dazed, weeping and wounded people walked through streets searching for relatives. “I promise you that this catastrophe will not pass without accountability,” Prime Minister Hassan Diab told the nation. “Those responsible will pay the price,” he said in his televised address, adding that details about the “dangerous warehouse” would be made public. The interior minister told Al Jadeed TV that ammonium nitrate had been stored at the port since 2014. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)

5. KASHMIR - Political, Security: Kashmir curfew brought in as region marks one year since special status revoked

FYSA: Authorities have brought in a curfew in many parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir, one day ahead of the first anniversary of India’s controversial decision to revoke the disputed region’s special status. Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, a civil administrator, said the security lockdown was put in place in the region’s main city of Srinagar in view of information about protests planned by anti-India groups to mark 5 August as “black day.” Police and paramilitary soldiers drove through neighbourhoods and went to people’s homes warning them to stay indoors. Government forces erected steel barricades and laid razor wire across roads, bridges and intersections. The curfew will be enforced on Tuesday and Wednesday, Choudhary said in a government order. “A series of inputs have been received suggesting that separatist and Pakistan-sponsored groups are planning to observe August 5 as Black Day and violent action or protests are not ruled out,” he said. Last year on 5 August, India’s Hindu-nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi downgraded Jammu-Kashmir status and divided it into two federally governed territories. Since then, New Delhi has brought in a slew of new laws which locals say are aimed at shifting the demographics in the Muslim-majority region, many of whom want independence from India or unification with Pakistan. (The Guardian. See link in heading for further reading)

6. NEW ZEALAND - Security (Health): Dr Ashley Bloomfield's dire warning - NZ should brace for second wave

FYSA: The country's top health official today reiterated a dire warning that New Zealand should brace for a second wave of Covid-19 to sweep through the community, similar to the outbreak wreaking havoc in Victoria. Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the health ministry had been sounding the warning about the prospect of community transmission in recent weeks and was now gearing up for the likely prospect. (NZH. See link in heading for further reading)

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