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Lebanon: What we know about deadly Beirut explosion, in 500 words




The mega-blast that tore through Lebanon’s capital with the force of an earthquake, killing more than 100 people and injuring more than 4,000 others, resulted from the ignition of a huge depot of ammonium nitrate at Beirut’s port, officials say, but many questions remain.

Here is what we know so far.

What happened?

A colossal explosion in the port area of Beirut took place at about 6pm local time (15:00 GMT) on Tuesday. It is believed there was a fire leading up to the explosion that flattened the harbour front and surrounding buildings.

Seismologists measured the event, which blew out windows at the city’s international airport nine kilometres (more than five miles) away, as the equivalent of a magnitude 3.3 earthquake.

Video stills show an intense blazing fireball rising above a line of massive storage silos, then a billowing cloud towering into the sky as a powerful shockwave rips through Lebanon’s biggest city.

Why such a big blast?

Massive explosion rips through Beirut

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab said 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, an agricultural fertiliser, stored in a portside warehouse had blown up, sparking “a disaster in every sense of the word”.

Ammonium nitrate is an odourless crystalline substance that has been the cause of numerous industrial explosions over the years.

When combined with fuel oils, it creates a potent explosive widely used in the construction industry, but also by armed groups such as the Taliban for improvised explosive devices.

Lebanon’s General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim said the material had been confiscated years earlier and stored in the warehouse, located close to Beirut’s shopping and nightlife districts.

Was it deliberate?

There has been no indication from Lebanese officials that the explosions were caused deliberately.

United States President Donald Trump said late on Tuesday that US generals had told him the explosions appeared to have been caused by a “bomb of some kind”. “It looks like a terrible attack,” Trump said.

But a Pentagon spokesman, when asked about the president’s remarks, told the AFP news agency that “we don’t have anything for you” and “you will have to reach out to the White House for clarification”.

Diab’s government described the circumstances at the port that led to the explosion as “unacceptable” and promised to investigate.

How many casualties?

The explosion killed more than 100 people and injured more than 4,000, the Lebanese Red Cross said on Wednesday in the latest updated toll.

Search and rescue teams were still sifting through areas surrounding the port, it added, with rubble from flattened buildings spread across a wide area.

Injuries were recorded right across the city, with glass blown out of buildings in multiple districts.

What happens next?

Lebanon’s national defence council has declared Beirut a disaster zone and Diab has appealed to Lebanon’s allies to “stand by” the country and send aid.

President Michel Aoun has announced he will release 100 billion lira ($66m) of emergency funds.

But the country is in the middle of an enormous economic crisis and its hospitals are already overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The US, France, Qatar, Iran and even Lebanon’s arch foe Israel have offered to send aid.

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Ensuring security in Karabakh our top priority – Turkish president




By Trend

By liberating its lands in Karabakh, Azerbaijan opened up new opportunities in the region, Trend reports, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, Trend reports.

Erdogan made the remark at the 14th summit of leaders of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO).

"The main priority for us is to ensure security in Karabakh. For this we will do our best," the Turkish president said.

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Armenian Aggression

Azerbaijan expects creating new broadcasting opportunities for Internet TV, radio channels




By Trend

New broadcasting opportunities for Internet TV and radio channels can be created in Azerbaijan, Head of the Office of the National Council for Television and Radio (NCTR) Fazil Novruzov said in an interview with the local Real TV channel, Trend reports on Mar.4.

According to Novruzov, in this regard broadcasters of the Internet TV and radio channels apply to the NCTR.

“There are technical possibilities, but there are gaps from a legal point of view. We made the proposals that broadcasters of Internet TV and radio channels, after undergoing simplified procedures, would be entered into the relevant register and would be able to broadcast on other platforms, for example, in the cable network, on the IP or OTP platforms. This will help expand their audience," he added.

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Armenian Aggression

Prices for precious metals in Azerbaijan decline




By Trend

Prices for precious metals in Azerbaijan on March 4 have decreased compared to previous indicators, Trend reports citing data from the Central Bank of Azerbaijan.

Thus, an ounce of gold fell by 37.9185 manat or $22.3 (1.29 percent), amounting to 2,911.3095 manat or $1,712, and an ounce of silver – by 0.9539 manat or 56 cents (2.1 percent), amounting to 44.3974 manat or $26.1. The price per ounce of platinum decreased by 69.1645 manat or $40.68 (3.38 percent) and amounted to 1,974.21 manat or $1,161, and per ounce of palladium – by 23.5025 manat or $13.8 (0.58 percent), amounting to 4,008.8975 manat or $2,358.

Over the month, the price of an ounce of gold decreased by 187.3825 manat or $1,102 (6 percent), and an ounce of silver – by 0.6726 manat or $39 cents (1.5 percent). The price per ounce of platinum rose by 129.948 manat or $76.4 (7 percent), and per ounce of palladium – by 174.9385 manat or $102.9 (4.6 percent).

Over the year, gold rose by 117.7335 manat or $69.2 (4.2 percent), silver – by 15.0705 manat or $8.86 (51.4 percent), platinum – by 464.27 manat or $273.1 (30.7 percent), and palladium fell by 2,216.035 manat or $1,303 (5.2 percent).










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