Victorian arrivals to enter NSW hotel quarantine, National Cabinet to meet, Australia’s death toll stands at 255


Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles has defended the actions of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews through the pandemic, telling the Today show that he wants to see the same leadership from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Daniel Andrews is governing through the most appalling of circumstances, but he’s standing up every day. He’s taking the heat,” Mr Marles said.

Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles has defended the actions of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews through the pandemic.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“He established a judicial inquiry into the situation here almost instantaneously and he’s made this clear that at the end of the day he will take responsibility as the Premier of Victoria.

“Now, that’s leadership, and in a really tough time, and what we hear from the Federal Government is – I think we’ve heard it this morning – is a pretty clear attempt to say “this is all Victoria’s problems, it’s got nothing to do with us.”

“I don’t hear the Prime Minister standing up every day and taking the kind of responsibility that we’re seeing being taken by Daniel Andrews in relation to aged care, for example. This disease has got in there, and we should be hearing from the Prime Minister in similar terms.”



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Melbourne stage four business shutdown begins, Australia’s death toll at 247


Good morning and welcome to today’s live blog coverage. This is Mary Ward taking you through the latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic locally and abroad this morning. Please send me a tweet or use the email box below if there is something happening in your community you think we should look into.

Melburnians have woken up to the full brunt of their stage four restrictions, with certain businesses – such as non-essential retail – directed to close from 11.59pm last night. If you have been issued a Permitted Workers Scheme permit by your employer, you will need to carry that as you commute to your place of work. If you are also bringing a child to childcare, there is a different form, the “Permitted Worker Permit (including childcare)”, which you can download here.

In the north, yesterday NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her state was “not an island”, but it sure is getting close after she announced all people entering from Victoria from Friday would need to complete 14 days’ hotel quarantine and Queensland Premier Annastacia Pakaszczuk announced a hard border closure with NSW and the ACT from Saturday. The fallout of Premier Berejiklian’s afternoon announcement is still being realised, with concerns raised about food security.

We will be bringing you live updates throughout the day. Stay with us.





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Beirut blast survivors sift rubble for bodies as death toll continues to rise


Survivors of a cataclysmic explosion that devastated the Lebanese capital of Beirut last night were picking through the remains of their city for victims today as the death toll topped 100 and was expected to continue rising, with more than 4,000 wounded. 

Beirut, once known as the Paris of the Middle East, resembled a huge scrapyard as the sun rose on Wednesday – with barely a building left unscathed in a blast caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that exploded with a fifth of the power of the atomic bomb that levelled Hiroshima.

Street after street, neighbourhood after neighbourhood, buildings were left without roofs or windows, their interiors shredded by the force of the explosion – believed to have been sparked when a welder caused a fire at the port, which in turn set light to a warehouse storing chemicals which had been seized from a ship six years ago.

After a night of shock and awe, the full scale of the calamity now facing Lebanon – a country that was already in the midst of an economic crisis – was laid bare at dawn.

The economic cost of the damage is thought to be around $5billion, but the more-pressing human cost includes 300,000 people left homeless along with dozens of missing, and hospitals creaking under the strain of thousands of wounded.

As authorities began totting up the cost of the disaster the threat of recriminations was also hanging in the air, along with smoke from still-burning fires. 

Prime Minister Hassan Diab vowed those responsible will ‘pay the price’ as he declared a two-week state of emergency to deal with the crisis, urging all world leaders and ‘friends of Lebanon’ to donate aid to the country, adding: ‘We are witnessing a real catastrophe.’  

The US, UK, France, Gulf states and even bitter rivals Israel have offered money and assistance, as President Michel Aoun declared three days of mourning and announced he would release $66million of emergency funds.  

Lebanon has begun the daunting task of trying to clean up its capital Beirut after a devastating explosion tore apart the city’s port (pictured) and caused damage across the city after several tons of explosive chemicals ignited

Fires were still burning at the destroyed port on Wednesday morning as the full extent of the devastation – in a country that was already in the midst of an economic crisis – was laid bare

Survivors of the blast which devastated Beirut overnight were sifting through the ruins of the city on Wednesday for bodies as the death toll rose to 100 with more than 4,000 wounded, and hospitals struggling to cope

Survivors of the blast which devastated Beirut overnight were sifting through the ruins of the city on Wednesday for bodies as the death toll rose to 100 with more than 4,000 wounded, and hospitals struggling to cope 

Dramatic footage on social media shows people screaming as an enormous blast rocks the waterside area of Lebanon's capital city

Dramatic footage shows smoke billowing from the port area shortly before an enormous fireball explodes into the sky and blankets the city in a thick mushroom cloud

A warehouse fire sparked by a welder set light to 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that was being stored at the city’s port, causing an explosion with force roughly equal to a fifth of the atomic bomb which levelled Hiroshima

Lebanese soldiers picked through the rubble of buildings for bodies, with the death toll expected to rise further

Lebanese soldiers picked through the rubble of buildings for bodies, with the death toll expected to rise further

A survivor pulled from the rubble by Lebanese soldiers is rushed to hospital following the blast which devastated Beirut

A survivor pulled from the rubble by Lebanese soldiers is rushed to hospital following the blast which devastated Beirut

The latest developments came as:

  • It was revealed port authorities repeatedly warned of the dangers of storing the ammonium nitrate without safety measures, saying it was enough to ‘blow up the whole of Beirut’
  • Court documents revealed customs officials had applied at least six times starting in 2014 for the chemicals to be removed, but all of their requests were turned down
  • Lebanon’s President said an investigation into what happened is already underway, and that punishment will be ‘meted out’ to those who deserve it
  • Lebanese people launched desperate appeals to find loved ones – including port workers and a fireman who was called to the initial blaze before the main explosion
  • Locals warned of a major exodus from the country, which was already struggling to feed millions of refugees from the civil war in Syria 

France says it is sending two planes with dozens of emergency workers, a mobile medical unit and 15 tons of aid. French President Emmanuel Macron’s office says the aid should allow for the treatment of some 500 victims.

French peacekeepers stationed in Lebanon, a former French protectorate, have been helping since the explosions, Macron’s office said.

Jordan says a military field hospital including all necessary personnel will be dispatched, according to the Royal Court. Egypt has opened a field hospital in Beirut to receive the wounded.

Trump calls deadly Beirut explosions a ‘terrible attack’ 

President Trump

President Trump

President Donald Trump described deadly explosions as a ‘terrible attack’ during a Tuesday press conference, despite no evidence suggesting the blasts were intentional.

A series of massive explosions in the Lebanese capital’s port area rocked the city earlier today, killing at least 70 people and injuring more than 3,000 others. 

‘The United States stands ready to assist Lebanon,’ Trump said at a White House briefing. ‘We will be there to help. It looks like a terrible attack.’

When quizzed by a reporter if he was certain the explosion was in fact an attack, Trump confirmed that he was, insisting he had ‘met with some of our great generals and they seem to feel that it was.

‘They would know better than I would,’ the president continued. ‘They seem to think … it was a bomb of some kind, yes.’

Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamacek says Lebanon has accepted an offer to send a team of 37 rescuers with sniffer dogs to Beirut. Denmark says it is ready to provide humanitarian assistance to Lebanon, and Greece says it is ready to help Lebanese authorities ‘with all means at its disposal.’

Russia’s emergency officials say the country will send five planeloads of aid to Beirut after an explosion in the Lebanese capital’s port killed at least 100 people and injured thousands on Tuesday.

Germany says it is ready to send a team of 47 search-and-rescue experts to Beirut after the enormous explosion in the city’s port on Tuesday killed at least 100 people and injured thousands.

Germany also says its embassy was damaged in the blast but diplomats have reactivated an old building and are able to work.

Meanwhile President Donald Trump last night offered US aid to Lebanon, before calling the explosion a ‘terrible attack’ and claiming that his generals had said it appeared to have been caused by a ‘bomb of some kind’, without offering evidence. 

Robert Baer, a former CIA operative who operated for years in the Middle East, stuck a more nuanced tone -saying the explosion appears to have been an accident, but he is not convinced that ammonium nitrate was the sole cause.

He pointed to videos of what appeared to be fireworks going off amid a pall of white smoke, right before the main blast which sent a column of reddish-brown smoke high into the sky.

Baer told CNN that those ‘fireworks’ were likely munitions that had been stored as part of a weapons cache that included military-grade propellant.

‘It was clearly a military explosive,’ he said. ‘It was not fertilizer like ammonium nitrate. I’m quite sure of that.’ 

But he added that it would likely take years to learn the truth of what caused the blast, if it was ever revealed, because ‘no one is going to want to admit they kept military explosives at the port’.

Lebanon is effectively run by Hezbollah, an Iranian paramilitary group with a history of secrecy.

The U.S. embassy in Beirut warned residents in the city about reports of toxic gases released by the blast, urging people to stay indoors and wear masks if available. 

Thousands of people have also been left homeless by the blast, which threatened a mass exodus from the Mediterranean country that was already suffering with coronavirus, poor governance, and an economic crisis. 

‘We’ve had some dark days in Lebanon over the years but this is something else,’ said Rami Rifai, a 38-year-old engineer, speaking to AFP from a hospital where his two daughters were receiving treatment after sustaining cuts despite being half a kilometre from the seat of the blast.

‘We already had the economic crisis, a government of thieves and coronavirus. I didn’t think it could get worse but now I don’t know if this country can get up again. Everyone is going to try to leave. I will try to leave,’ he said, his voice choked by tears.

Firefighters had already been on the scene dealing with an initial blaze when the explosion took place. One security source told Reuters that the initial fire was caused during welding work on a hole in a warehouse wall.

Sources said the blaze started at warehouse 9 of the port and spread to warehouse 12, where the ammonium nitrate was stored. 

One Israeli bomb expert suggested fireworks could have been stored in one of the warehouses close to the ammonium nitrate.

Explosives certification expert Boaz Hayoun said: ‘Before the big explosion … in the center of the fire, you can see sparks, you can hear sounds like popcorn and you can hear whistles. This is very specific behavior of fireworks.’ 

A drone captures the devastation wrought by the explosion, including a watery crater (bottom left) where the warehouse containing the explosive chemicals previously stood

An aerial image of port before the explosion took place, showing the now-destroyed grain silo at the centre of the image with the warehouse containing the explosives to the left of it - which is now completely gone

An aerial image of port before the explosion took place, showing the now-destroyed grain silo at the centre of the image with the warehouse containing the explosives to the left of it – which is now completely gone

A Lebanese army helicopter flies over the site of the blast in Beirut's port area on Wednesday morning as smoke still rises from the rubble

A Lebanese army helicopter flies over the site of the blast in Beirut’s port area on Wednesday morning as smoke still rises from the rubble

A survivor of the Beirut blast is pulled from rubble of a building that was ripped apart by a shockwave that reverberated around the city, tearing it apart

A survivor of the Beirut blast is pulled from rubble of a building that was ripped apart by a shockwave that reverberated around the city, tearing it apart

Soldiers use pickaxes to dig through the rubble of buildings in Beirut in a desperate search for survivors on Wednesday

Soldiers use pickaxes to dig through the rubble of buildings in Beirut in a desperate search for survivors on Wednesday

Lebanese soldiers patrol the streets of Beirut on Wednesday to keep the peace after a blast tore the city apart

Lebanese soldiers patrol the streets of Beirut on Wednesday to keep the peace after a blast tore the city apart

A woman is evacuated from the partially destroyed Beirut neighbourhood of Mar Mikhael in the aftermath of a massive explosion in the Lebanese capital

A woman is evacuated from the partially destroyed Beirut neighbourhood of Mar Mikhael in the aftermath of a massive explosion in the Lebanese capital

A shockwave caused by the blast left barely a building in the city untouched, with damage reported up to 15 miles away

A shockwave caused by the blast left barely a building in the city untouched, with damage reported up to 15 miles away

Survivors of the blast walk the streets of the city, looking for victims amid the ruins of their old neighbourhoods

Survivors of the blast walk the streets of the city, looking for victims amid the ruins of their old neighbourhoods

Wounded people are treated at a hospital following the explosion, which has left hundreds of casualties in Beirut last night

Wounded people are treated at a hospital following the explosion, which has left hundreds of casualties in Beirut last night

Men gather in a street close to the destroyed port as they sift through the ruins of Beirut to salvage what they can

Men gather in a street close to the destroyed port as they sift through the ruins of Beirut to salvage what they can

A destroyed facade of a building is seen following the blast on Tuesday. Rescuers worked throughout the night to find people amid the devastation

A destroyed facade of a building is seen following the blast on Tuesday. Rescuers worked throughout the night to find people amid the devastation

Police and forensic officers work at the scene of an explosion on Wednesday morning and rescuers continue to look for survivors

Police and forensic officers work at the scene of an explosion on Wednesday morning and rescuers continue to look for survivors

Firefighters spent the night battling blazes at the port, which were still burning as the sun came up on Wednesday

Firefighters spent the night battling blazes at the port, which were still burning as the sun came up on Wednesday 

After the second, more devastating explosion, images showed port buildings reduced to tangled masonry, devastating the main entry point to a country that relies on food imports to feed its population of more than six million. 

Charbel Haj, who works at the harbour, said the explosion started as small explosions like firecrackers before he was suddenly thrown off his feet by the huge blast. 

The explosion damaged the Roum Hospital, which put out a call for people to bring it spare generators to keep its electricity going as it evacuated patients because of heavy damage.

Ammonium nitrate – the terrorist’s bomb ingredient 

Ammonium nitrate – identified as the cause of the deadly explosion in Beirut – is an odourless crystalline substance used as a fertilizer that has been behind many industrial explosions and terrorist attacks over the decades. 

Two tonnes of it was used to create the bomb in the 1995 Oklahoma City attack that destroyed a federal building, leaving 168 people dead, and it has been widely used by the Taliban in improvised devices.

Experts say a fire in Beirut started after a spark from a welder likely ignited the highly reactive chemical, causing a blast the equivalent to three million kilotons of TNT, killing at least 100 people and leaving thousands more injured.

There were 2,750 tonnes of the hazardous chemical held in the warehouse at the time of the explosion – which measured as the equivalent of a 3.5 earthquake. 

Death and injury from the explosion would have come in a number of phases, according to Dr David Caldicott from the Australian National University. 

‘Primary injuries are blast-related, as a consequence of the overpressure wave interacting with the hollow space in victims; lung injuries are often survived, but subsequently fatal, and bowel injuries are common.

‘Secondary injuries are caused by flying debris; effectively environmental shrapnel.

‘Tertiary injuries are as a consequence of being thrown by the blast, and quaternary injuries by other features such as inhalation.’ 

When combined with fuel oils, ammonium nitrate creates a potent explosive widely used in the construction industry, but also by insurgent groups to create bombs.

As well as the Oklahoma City bomb in the US, it has been used in a number of IRA attacks on the UK. 

These include the Bishopsgate attack in April 1993 that left 40 injured and a 40ft wide crater, and a 3,300lb bomb in Manchester in June 1996 that left 2000 injured but no deaths due to a phone warning an hour before the blast. 

In agriculture, ammonium nitrate fertiliser is applied in granule form and quickly dissolves under moisture, allowing nitrogen to be released into the soil.

However, under normal storage conditions and without very high heat, it is difficult to ignite ammonium nitrate, Jimmie Oxley, a chemistry professor at the University of Rhode Island, said.

‘If you look at the video (of the Beirut explosion), you saw the black smoke, you saw the red smoke – that was an incomplete reaction,’ she said.

‘I am assuming that there was a small explosion that instigated the reaction of the ammonium nitrate – whether that small explosion was an accident or something on purpose I haven’t heard yet.’

That’s because ammonium nitrate is an oxidiser – it intensifies combustion and allows other substances to ignite more readily, but is not itself very combustible.

For these reasons, there are generally very strict rules about where it can be stored: for example, it must be kept away from fuels and sources of heat.

In fact, many countries in the European Union require that calcium carbonate to be added to ammonium nitrate to create calcium ammonium nitrate, which is safer.

In the United States, regulations were tightened significantly after the Oklahoma City attack, with inspections required if more than 2,000lbs of it are stored in one place.  

Outside the St George University Hospital in Beirut’s Achrafieh neighbuorhood, people with various injuries arrived in ambulances, in cars and on foot.

The explosion had caused major damage inside the building and knocked out the electricity at the hospital. Dozens of injured were being treated on the spot on the street outside, on stretchers and wheelchairs.   

Lebanon’s Red Cross said it had been drowning in calls from injured people, many who are still trapped in their homes.  

Miles from the scene of the blast, balconies were knocked down, ceiling collapsed and windows were shattered.  

Beirut’s main airport, six miles away from the port, was reportedly damaged by the explosion, with pictures showing sections of collapsed ceiling. 

Beirut’s governor told journalists he does not know the cause of the explosion and said he had never seen such destruction, comparing the sobering scenes to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  

Local Fady Roumieh was stood in the car park to shopping centre ABC Mall Achrafieh, around 2km east of the blast, when the explosion occurred.

He said: ‘It was like a nuclear bomb. The damage is so widespread and severe all over the city. 

‘Some buildings as far as 2km are partially collapsed. It’s like a war zone. The damage is extreme. Not one glass window intact.’ 

A soldier at the port, where relatives of the missing scrambled for news of their loved ones, said: ‘It’s a catastrophe inside. There are corpses on the ground. Ambulances are still lifting the dead.’

A woman in her twenties stood screaming at security forces, asking about the fate of her brother, a port employee.

‘His name is Jad, his eyes are green,’ she pleaded, to no avail as officers refused her entry.

‘It was like an atomic bomb,’ said Makrouhie Yerganian, a retired schoolteacher in her mid-70s who has lived near the port for decades.

‘I’ve experienced everything, but nothing like this before,’ even during the country’s 1975-1990 civil war, she said.

‘All the buildings around here have collapsed.’  

One witness said: ‘I saw a fireball and smoke billowing over Beirut. People were screaming and running, bleeding. 

‘Balconies were blown off buildings. Glass in high-rise buildings shattered and fell to the street.’ 

Rami Rifai, a 38-year-old engineer,from a hospital where his two daughters were receiving treatment after sustaining cuts despite being half a kilometre from the seat of the blast said: ‘We’ve had some dark days in Lebanon over the years but this is something else.

‘We already had the economic crisis, a government of thieves and coronavirus. I didn’t think it could get worse but now I don’t know if this country can get up again. Everyone is going to try to leave. I will try to leave,’ he said, his voice choked by tears.

One resident of Mar Mikhail, one of the most affected neighbourhoods, said she saw bodies strewn in the middle of the street, apparently thrown off balconies and rooftops by the blast. 

For a long time after the blast, ambulance sirens sounded across the city and helicopters hovered above. 

Residents said glass was broken in houses from Raouche, on the Mediterranean city’s western tip, to Rabieh 10 km (6 miles) east). 

And in Cyprus, a Mediterranean island lying 110 miles (180 km) northwest of Beirut, residents reported hearing two large bangs in quick succession. 

One resident of the capital Nicosia said his house shook, rattling shutters.  

‘We do not have information about what has happened precisely, what has caused this, whether its accidental or manmade act,’ he said. 

Condolences poured in from across the world with Gulf nations, the United States and even Lebanon’s arch foe Israel offering to send aid. France also promised to send assistance.

The blast revived memories of a 1975-90 civil war and its aftermath, when Lebanese endured heavy shelling, car bombings and Israeli air raids. Some residents thought an earthquake had struck. 

‘The blast blew me off metres away. I was in a daze and was all covered in blood. It brought back the vision of another explosion I witnessed against the U.S. embassy in 1983,’ said Huda Baroudi, a Beirut designer. 

DOZENS MISSING AS LEBANESE LAUNCH DESPERATE SEARCH FOR LOVED ONES

Dozens of people have been reported missing following a cataclysmic explosion in Beirut as Lebanese people issued desperate appeals for information about their loved ones. 

An Instagram page called ‘locate victims Beirut’ sprung up in the wake of the tragedy, featuring images of those whose fates were unknown – including dock workers and firemen who rushed to the initial blaze before the larger blast.

People also flocked to emergency rooms where some of the 4,000 injured in the blast had been taken, desperately hoping for news. 

Marwan Chamaouni

Leila Nasser Fawaz

Marwan Chamaouni (left) and Leila Nasser Fawaz (right) were among those reported as missing by Lebanese media following the explosion in Beirut which killed at least 100 people

Ralph Mallahi

Ralph Mallahi

A firefighter named Ralph Mallahi (left and right) was also listed among the missing online, with relatives saying he was sent to the site of the initial fire before the main explosion and has not been seen since

At least 100 people have been confirmed dead in the explosion though that total is expected to keep rising.

The intensity of the blast threw victims into the sea and rescue teams were still trying to recover bodies. Many of those killed were port and custom employees and people working in the area or driving through during rush hour.

The Red Cross was coordinating with the Health Ministry to set up morgues because hospitals were overwhelmed,

Search and rescue teams were also coming through the rubble of nearby neighbourhoods in the hopes of finding survivors, with at least one person pulled from a destroyed apartment building.

The port district was left a tangled wreck, disabling the nation’s main route for imports needed to feed a nation of more than 6 million people. 

Lebanon has already been struggling to house and feed hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria.

Hassan Zaiter, 32, a manager at the heavily damaged Le Gray Hotel in downtown Beirut, said: ‘This explosion seals the collapse of Lebanon.’

Ali Abbas Ismael

Marwan Chamouni

Appeals were also issued online for Ali Abbas Ismael (left) and Marwan Chamouni (right), who could not be found after the explosion

Footage shows a thick column of smoke rising from the port before an explosion sends a fireball into the sky

A general view of the harbor area with smoke billowing from an area of a large explosion, with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor area of Beirut

A general view of the harbor area with smoke billowing from an area of a large explosion, with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor area of Beirut

The scene of the explosion that devastated the capital of Beirut last night. Rescuers worked throughout the night to look for survivors

The scene of the explosion that devastated the capital of Beirut last night. Rescuers worked throughout the night to look for survivors

People inspect a damaged petrol station near the scene of an explosion. Destroyed vehicles can also be seen and the nearby buildings all have shattered windows

People inspect a damaged petrol station near the scene of an explosion. Destroyed vehicles can also be seen and the nearby buildings all have shattered windows

The explosion has ripped a huge hole in the middle of this building as a man inspects the damage at the front

The explosion has ripped a huge hole in the middle of this building as a man inspects the damage at the front

Lebanese firefighters work at the scene of explosion at the Beirut Port, Beirut following the huge explosion yesterday evening

Lebanese firefighters work at the scene of explosion at the Beirut Port, Beirut following the huge explosion yesterday evening 

An injured man covered in blood is seen in Beirut following the explosion in Beirut on Tuesday

An injured man covered in blood is seen in Beirut following the explosion in Beirut on Tuesday

A man reacts at the scene of an explosion at the port in Lebanon's capital Beirut on August 4

A man reacts at the scene of an explosion at the port in Lebanon’s capital Beirut on August 4

Glass is shattered by the explosion at the Cavalier Hotel in Beirut following the explosion

Glass is shattered by the explosion at the Cavalier Hotel in Beirut following the explosion 

Explosion rocks Lebanon during time of deep economic turmoil 

The explosion comes amid political tension in Lebanon, with street demonstrations against the government’s handling the worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Late last year investigators revealed what was effectively a state-sponsored pyramid scheme being run by the central bank, which was borrowing from commercial banks at above-market interest rates to pay back its debts and maintain the Lebanese pound’s fixed exchange rate with the US dollar.

In January mass protests against the corruption allegations and a faltering economy led to the fall of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s government.

His predecessor , Independent Hassan Diab, cut the country’s budget by $700million and put in place a financial rescue plan a month later.

But Lebanon’s problems have persisted after the Covid-19 pandemic forced global border closures, and protests have returned after the Lebanese pound fell in value, despite a lockdown being imposed in March.

Many businesses have been forced to close, but as prices continue to rise with a devalued currency some are struggling to buy basic necessities, and the prime minister warned that Lebanon was at risk of a ‘major food crisis’.

Analysts suggest the crisis has been prolonged because of political sectarianism, with the president, prime minister and speaker split between the three largest cultural groups; Christians; Shia Muslim; and Sunni Muslims.

Parliament is also drawn down the middle between Christian and Muslim members.

With the country’s governance in need of unity between the competing groups, external powers have been able to interfere in the country. Iran, for instance, backs the militant Hezbollah Shia movement

UN chief Antonio Guterres expressed his ‘deepest condolences … following the horrific explosions in Beirut’ which he said had also injured some United Nations personnel. 

Boris Johnson offered to help the crisis-hit country, tweeting: ‘The pictures and videos from Beirut tonight are shocking. 

‘All of my thoughts and prayers are with those caught up in this terrible incident. The UK is ready to provide support in any way we can, including to those British nationals affected.’ 

The UK Foreign Office has said a few of its embassy staff sustained non-life threatening injuries in the blast. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said in a tweet: ‘The images of explosions in Beirut are deeply worrying. Our thoughts are with those affected, the emergency services and the people of Lebanon.’ 

Offers of aid also came from bitter rivals Israel, with which it is still technically at war. 

Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, on behalf of the State of Israel, have offered the Lebanese government – via international intermediaries – medical and humanitarian aid, as well as immediate emergency assistance,’ said a joint statement from the two ministries. 

Last week, Israel accused the Lebanese group Hezbollah of trying to send gunmen across the UN-demarcated Blue Line and said it held the Lebanese government responsible for what it termed an attempted ‘terrorist’ attack. 

Hezbollah said all of the country’s political powers must unite to overcome the ‘painful catastrophe’. 

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that France stood ‘alongside Lebanon’ and was ready to help, tweeting: ‘France stands and will always stand by the side of Lebanon and the Lebanese. It is ready to provide assistance according to the needs expressed by the Lebanese authorities. 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: ‘We are monitoring and stand ready to assist the people of Lebanon as they recover from this horrible tragedy.’

Iran’s foreign minister has said it is standing by to help Lebanon recover from the fallout of the explosion.

Countries in the Gulf paid tribute to victims of the explosion as Qatar said it would send field hospitals to support Lebanon’s medical response.

Qatar’s ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani called President Michel Aoun to offer condolences, according to the state-run Qatar News Agency.

Sheikh Tamim wished ‘a speedy recovery for the injured,’ adding that he ‘expressed Qatar’s solidarity with brotherly Lebanon and its willingness to provide all kinds of assistance’. 

Pictures shows the scene of an explosion at the port in the Lebanese capital Beirut, which lay waste to surrounding buildings

Pictures shows the scene of an explosion at the port in the Lebanese capital Beirut, which lay waste to surrounding buildings

Firefighters spray water at a fire after an explosion was heard in Beirut

Firefighters spray water at a fire after an explosion was heard in Beirut

Medics shift an injured person from Najjar Hospital to another hospital in Al-Hamra area in Beirut after several hospitals were damaged in the blast

Medics shift an injured person from Najjar Hospital to another hospital in Al-Hamra area in Beirut after several hospitals were damaged in the blast  

Buildings and cars are partially destroyed in the neighbourhood of Mar Mikhael following an explosion at the port of Beirut last night

Buildings and cars are partially destroyed in the neighbourhood of Mar Mikhael following an explosion at the port of Beirut last night 

Firefighters douse a blaze at the city's port tonight following the deadly explosion which has wreaked devestation on Beirut

Firefighters douse a blaze at the city’s port tonight following the deadly explosion which has wreaked devestation on Beirut

Smoke billows from harbor area with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor of Beirut

Smoke billows from harbor area with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor of Beirut

The thick plume of smoke looms over the city of Beirut on Tuesday evening after the explosion at the port

The thick plume of smoke looms over the city of Beirut on Tuesday evening after the explosion at the port

A view shows the damages entrance of a store in Burj Abu Haidar area in Beirut

A view shows the damages entrance of a store in Burj Abu Haidar area in Beirut

Israel among the countries to offer bomb-struck Beirut humanitarian aid 

In a televised message this evening, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab called on all ‘friendly and brotherly countries to stand by Lebanon’, hours after the bomb blast which tore through downtown Beirut, killing dozens, wounding thousands, and destroying countless buildings in the city centre. 

Among those to answer the call were Iran, Britain and France. 

Israel, whom Lebanon is still technically at war with, also offered their support. 

‘Following the explosion in Beirut, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, on behalf of the State of Israel, have offered the Lebanese government – via international intermediaries – medical and humanitarian aid, as well as immediate emergency assistance,’ said a joint statement from the two ministries.

The offer comes after two weeks of heightened tensions between the rival neighbours, with a series of border clashes between the Israeli Defence Forces and Hezbollah on Israel’s northern frontier. 

Israel accused the Lebanese group Hezbollah of trying to send gunmen across the UN-demarcated Blue Line and said it held the Lebanese government responsible for what it termed an attempted ‘terrorist’ attack.

Hezbollah and Israel last fought a 33-day war in the summer of 2006.  

Elsewhere in the Gulf, the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted that ‘our hearts are with Beirut and its people’.

He posted the tribute alongside an image of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, illuminated in the colours of the Lebanese flag.

‘Our prayers during these difficult hours are that God… protects brotherly Lebanon and the Lebanese to reduce their affliction and heal their wounds,’ he wrote.

Gulf countries including Qatar and the UAE maintain close ties with Beirut and have long provided financial aid and diplomatic assistance to mediate Lebanon’s political and sectarian divisions.

Bahrain’s foreign ministry urged its nationals in Lebanon to contact the ministry’s operations centre or Manama’s representative in Beirut, while Kuwait ordered its citizens to take extreme caution and stay indoors. 

It comes just days before a United Nations tribunal is set to rule on the assassination of the country’s former PM Rafik Hariri.

The house of his son, Saad Hariri, who also led the country, was damaged by the blast but he was confirmed safe.

Save the Children said in a statement that members of their team on the ground in the city have reported entire streets destroyed and children unaccounted for.

Despite the charity’s offices in the city being badly damaged, they have pledged that a rapid response team is ready to offer support.

Jad Sakr, Save the Children’s country director in Lebanon, said: ‘We are shocked and devastated by the explosion today.

‘The death toll may not be known for several days but we do know is that in a disaster like this, children may be hurt, shocked and separated from their parents.

‘Our child protection teams are ready to support the government’s efforts, which will almost certainly go on for several days to come.

‘It is vital that children and their families get access to the services they urgently need, including medical care and physical and emotional protection.’

He added: ‘The incident could not have occurred at a worst time and has hit communities who were already suffering from the impact of the Covid-19 crisis and the economic deterioration.

‘Beirut’s main port, now completely damaged, is vital for much of the food, grains and fuel that Lebanon imports, and families will immediately feel the shortage in basic needs as a result of this tragedy.’

Lebanese President Michel Aoun holds a High Defence Council meeting at the Baabda Palace following the blast

Lebanese President Michel Aoun holds a High Defence Council meeting at the Baabda Palace following the blast

A car if left flipped on its roof on a motorway as a result of the devastating impact of the explosion yesterday

A car if left flipped on its roof on a motorway as a result of the devastating impact of the explosion yesterday

A mobile phone image showing a general view of the harbor area with smoke billowing from an area of a large exoplosion, with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor area of Beirut

A mobile phone image showing a general view of the harbor area with smoke billowing from an area of a large exoplosion, with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor area of Beirut

People on the street in Beirue which is strewn with debris from damaged buildings following the explosion

People on the street in Beirue which is strewn with debris from damaged buildings following the explosion

The loud blast in Beirut's port area was felt across large parts of the city and some districts lost electricity

The loud blast in Beirut’s port area was felt across large parts of the city and some districts lost electricity

The health minister told Reuters there was a "very high number" of injured. Al Mayadeen TV said hundreds were wounded

The health minister told Reuters there was a ‘very high number’ of injured. Al Mayadeen TV said hundreds were wounded

Witnesses have reported bystanders injured by falling debris from buildings and shards of glass flying towards people after the shockwave smashed out windows

Witnesses have reported bystanders injured by falling debris from buildings and shards of glass flying towards people after the shockwave smashed out windows

A wounded man walks near the scene of an explosion in Beirut

A wounded man walks near the scene of an explosion in Beirut

A large explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut last night. The blast, which rattled entire buildings and broke glass, was felt in several parts of the city

A large explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut last night. The blast, which rattled entire buildings and broke glass, was felt in several parts of the city

Israel denies any involvement in Beirut port blast that comes amid rising tensions in between Lebanon and its neighbour

by WILL COLE for MailOnline 

Israel has denied having anything to do with the huge explosion in Beirut, adding that the country was ready to give humanitarian and medical assistance to Lebanon.

The huge explosion in port warehouses near the city centre as killed more than 100 people, injured over 4,000 and sent shockwaves that shattered windows, smashed masonry and shook the ground. 

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.

‘Israel has approached Lebanon through international security and diplomatic channels and has offered the Lebanese government medical and humanitarian assistance,’ a written statement from Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said.  

The offer comes after two weeks of heightened tensions between the rival neighbours, which involved a series of border clashes between the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and Hezbollah on Israel’s northern frontier. 

Earlier this month, Israel accused Hezbollah of trying to send gunmen across the UN-demarcated Blue Line and said it held the Lebanese government responsible for what it termed an attempted ‘terrorist’ attack.

Lebanon's interior minister said initial information indicated highly explosive material, seized years ago, that had been stored at the port had blown up

Lebanon’s interior minister said initial information indicated highly explosive material, seized years ago, that had been stored at the port had blown up

 

There have been numerous similar border spats in recent years but the most recent full-scale conflict broke out between the two sides in 2006 after Hezbollah killed eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two, sparking the 34-day Israel-Lebanon war. 

Hezbollah launched rockets at its southern neighbour and Israel returned fire, bombing Lebanese towns, villages and key infrastructure targets. 

The conflict ended inconclusively and the two sides are still, technically, at war. Lebanon is one of 31 UN member states that does not recognise Israel’s existence as a state.  

International aid in the form of emergency workers and medical personnel is already on its way to Lebanon. 

France says it is sending two planes with dozens of emergency workers, a mobile medical unit and 15 tons of aid. French President Emmanuel Macron’s office says the aid should allow for the treatment of some 500 victims.

French peacekeepers stationed in Lebanon, a former French protectorate, have been helping since the explosions, Macron’s office said.

Jordan says a military field hospital including all necessary personnel will be dispatched, according to the Royal Court. Egypt has opened a field hospital in Beirut to receive the wounded.

Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamacek says Lebanon has accepted an offer to send a team of 37 rescuers with sniffer dogs to Beirut. Denmark says it is ready to provide humanitarian assistance to Lebanon, and Greece says it is ready to help Lebanese authorities ‘with all means at its disposal.’ 

Prime Minister Hassan Diab, in a short televised speech, has appealed to all countries and friends of Lebanon to extend help to the small nation, saying: ‘We are witnessing a real catastrophe.’ He reiterated his pledge that those responsible for the massive explosion at Beirut’s port will pay the price, without commenting on the cause.

Diab’s speech came the morning after the blast killed at least 100 people and wounded thousands.

Smoke was still rising from the port Wednesday morning. Major downtown streets were littered with debris and damaged vehicles, and building facades were blown out.

Lebanese Red Cross official George Kettaneh said at least 100 people were killed and more than 4,000 were wounded, and said the toll could rise further. 

After yesterday’s explosion, Shi’ite Iran, the main backer of militant political party Hezbollah, also offered support, as did Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, a leading Sunni power. 

‘What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe,’ the head of Lebanon’s Red Cross George Kettani told broadcaster Mayadeen. ‘There are victims and casualties everywhere.’

Hours after the blast, which struck shortly after 6 p.m. (1500 GMT), a fire still blazed in the port district, casting an orange glow across the night sky as helicopters hovered and ambulance sirens sounded across the capital.

A security source said victims were taken for treatment outside the city because Beirut hospitals were packed with wounded. Ambulances from the north and south of the country and the Bekaa valley to the east were called in to 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.

The U.S. embassy in Beirut warned residents in the city about reports of toxic gases released by the blast, urging people to stay indoors and wear masks if available. 

Footage of the explosion shared by residents on social media showed a column of smoke rising from the port followed by an enormous blast, sending up a white cloud and a fireball into the sky. Those filming the incident from high buildings 2 km (one mile) from the port were thrown backwards by the shock.

It was not immediately clear what caused the initial blaze on Tuesday that set off the blast.

Lebanon’s health minister said more than 50 people had been killed and more than 2,750 injured. Lebanon’s Red Cross said hundreds of people had been taken to hospitals.

The governor of Beirut port told Sky News a team of firefighters, who were battling the initial blaze, had ‘disappeared’ after the explosion.

President Michel Aoun called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared. He said it was ‘unacceptable’ that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were stored for six years without safety measures.

The prime minister called for a day of mourning. 

The explosion occurred three days before a U.N.-backed court is due to deliver a verdict in the trial of four suspects from the Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah over a 2005 bombing which killed former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and 21 others.

Hariri was killed by a huge truck bomb on the same waterfront, about 2 km (about one mile) from the port. 

Western countries including the United States, Britain and France also said they were ready to assist.

Images showed port buildings reduced to tangled masonry, devastating the main entry point to a country that relies on food imports to feed its population of more than 6 million.

It threatens a new humanitarian crisis in a nation that hosts hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and which is already grappling with economic meltdown under one of the world’s biggest debt burdens.

Residents said glass was broken in neighbourhoods on Beirut’s Mediterranean coast and inland suburbs several kms (miles) away. In Cyprus, a Mediterranean island 110 miles (180 km) across the sea from Beirut, residents heard the blast. One resident in Nicosia said his house and window shutters shook.

Lessons from history: Some of the worst industrial accidents from the last two decades

Tianjin, China – Container storage explosion

On August 12, 2015, a series of explosions killed approximately 173 people and injured hundreds of others at a container storage station in the city’s port.

Responders to initial reports of a fire at the site were not able to bring the blaze under control because, unknown to the firefighters, vast amounts of sodium cyanide and other chemicals which react with water were being stored at the site. 

There were two initial explosions within 30 seconds of each other at the facility, the second of which was far larger because it was the result of 800 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploding.

Fires at the site, which released tonnes of harmful substances into the air, were left uncontrolled due to the sheer scale of the explosion.

Of the 173 fatalities, 104 were firefighters.

On August 12, 2015, a series of explosions killed approximately 173 people and injured hundreds of others at a container storage station in the city's port

On August 12, 2015, a series of explosions killed approximately 173 people and injured hundreds of others at a container storage station in the city’s port

 

 

Gazipur, Bangladesh – A boiler explosion

During a restart of equipment on July 3, 2017, following a 10-day shutdown for Eid, Multifabs Limited confirmed that there garments factory boiler exploded, collapsing a section of its multi-story factory in the district of Gazipur on the outskirts of Dhaka.

Worringly, the company was quoted as saying some 50 people were inside the building while the six-year-old boiler was having maintenance work done to it.

Over the next 24 hours, rescuers found seven bodies in rubble, and three other victims died in hospital. The death toll would remained at 10.

‘I heard a big bang when I was having tea outside,’ factory driver Hafiz Mostafa said, as dozens thronged the factory site and firefighters moved rubble in search of missing persons. ‘I saw windows, doors, glasses, machinery and a section of the wall of the building go flying.’ 

‘The boiler was running well,’ Mahiuddin Faruqui, Multifab’s chairman told Reuters at the time. ‘After servicing when workers were trying to restart it, it went off.’ 

 

Cyprus navy base – Munitions dump blast

In one of the worst defence industry disasters this century, 13 people, including the head of the Cypriot navy, a navy base commander and six firefighters were killed by a blast at a munitions dump which knocked out the island’s biggest power station.

Firefighters were called to the Evangelos Florakis navy base on the south coast of the island on 11 July, 2011, to tackle a blaze at the dump, which burned for about an hour before causing the explosion.

The blast almost levelled the nearby Vassilikos power plant, which produces nearly 60 percent of the island’s energy, damaged buildings in nearby villages and rained metal on a motorway. All the victims were Cypriots.

The country’s defense minister and army chief quit hours after the explosion at the dump, which held confiscated Iranian armaments. A government spokesman ruled out sabotage.

The blast wounded 62 people, shredded the outer walls of two multi-storey buildings and shook olive groves and farming villages for miles around the base.

‘My tractor jumped about half a meter in the air,’ said farmer Nicos Aspros, who was tilling his field at the time of the blast. ‘There isn’t a house in the community which hasn’t been damaged.’ 

Firefighters were called to the Evangelos Florakis navy base on the south coast of the island on 11 July, 2011, to tackle a blaze at the dump, which burned for about an hour before causing the explosion

Firefighters were called to the Evangelos Florakis navy base on the south coast of the island on 11 July, 2011, to tackle a blaze at the dump, which burned for about an hour before causing the explosion

 

Lagos, Nigeria – Armoury explosion

The armoury explosion was the result of an accidental detonation of a large stock of military high explosives at a storage facility in the Nigerian capital on 27 January 2002.

The fires created by the debris from this explosion burnt down a large section of Northern Lagos, and created a panic that spread to other areas.

Also thrown up by the blast were thousands of as yet unexploded military munitions, which fell in a rain of exploding shells, grenades and bullets casting further destruction across most of the northern section of the city.

As people fled the flames, many stumbled into a concealed Ejigbo canal and drowned. 

The explosion and its aftermath are believed to have killed at least 1,100 people and displaced over 20,000, with many thousands injured or homeless.

The government of Nigeria launched an enquiry, which blamed the for failing to properly maintain the base, or to decommission it when instructed to do so in 2001.

 

Enschede, Netherlands – Fireworks disaster

The city of Enschede was built up around the SE Fireworks depot, the only one in the Netherlands to be located in a residential area.

On 13 May, 2000, firefighters were tackling a small fire at the warehouse when the explosion ripped through the building sending debris and fireworks into the air.

Unaware of the oncoming disaster, locals had been watching the firefighters tackle the blaze – and at least one was filming the fire – when the factory exploded.

The first explosion had a strength of 800kg TNT equivalence. However the majority of the damage was caused by the last explosion which had a strength within the range of 4000–5000kg TNT equivalent.

A total of 400 homes were destroyed and 1500 buildings damaged. The blasts killed 23 people including four firefighters, and injured nearly 1,000 people. 

One week prior to the explosion, SE had been audited. The company was judged to have met all official safety regulations while the legally imported fireworks had been inspected by Dutch authorities and deemed safe.

 Dutch firefighters continued to work in harsh conditions, and with the help of German firefighters from a town a short distance over the border, the blaze was put out by the end of the day. 

On 13 May, 2000, firefighters were tackling a small fire at the warehouse when the explosion ripped through the building sending debris and fireworks into the air

On 13 May, 2000, firefighters were tackling a small fire at the warehouse when the explosion ripped through the building sending debris and fireworks into the air

 



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Victoria awaits new numbers after 723 COVID-19 cases, Queensland border to close to Greater Sydney, Australia death toll at 189


Victorian Liberal MP Tim Smith said the state is on “the brink of a catastrophe” as the number of positive cases continues to grow.

On Thursday, the state recorded 723 new cases and 13 deaths.

Mr Smith, who holds the opposition planning, housing, population and local government portfolios, told radio station 2GB: “If Victoria was a country, we would be in the top 20 countries in the world for coronavirus infection. Only the US and Israel have worse infection rates per capita in the entire world. This is a crisis.”

He added “no one had confidence” in Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ ability to manage the situation, and should instead hand the situation over to Canberra.

“He needs to refer his powers to Scott Morrison and Greg Hunt because people have confidence in them, but they’ve got no confidence in Andrews. We need federal intervention and we need it now because Victoria is on the brink of a catastrophe.”



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Tasmanian small business owners reeling over COVID-19 emotional and financial toll


Recalling the moment she had to tell her young employees they were out of a job still brings Barb Harvey to tears months later.

She has owned the Deloraine Deli in Tasmania’s Meander Valley with her partner for more than 20 years.

The coronavirus pandemic is the only time they have shut.

“To lose your staff, your business, overnight, it was really tough,” Ms Harvey said.

The cafe employed 16 full-time workers before the pandemic.

Ms Harvey said she has slowly been able to re-hire 13 people.

“It took a while for me to accept that it wasn’t something we could control, it was happening to everyone, it didn’t make it any easier though,” she said.

“It’s still stressful, if we have a second wave … I don’t know what that would really mean, we’re running day-to-day basically.”

Life in Latrobe is returning to normal.(ABC News: Jessica Moran)

‘Frightening’ time

Owner of Deloraine’s Bush Inn Hotel, Peter Sheehan, said it was frightening when in late March the State Government first ordered Tasmanians to stay at home.

“We didn’t really know what we were looking at, it was very unexpected,” Mr Sheehan said.

“We shut down the bar and restaurant and also closed the accommodation.

The pub is one of four in the town and has been kept afloat by its bottle shop next door.

“It’s been a lifesaver in the end, it’s been really popular,” Mr Sheehan said.

During the pandemic’s peak, the Deloraine Town Cafe was one of only a handful of businesses that stayed open.

“We stayed open and kept five staff on. Now we’re back to having around nine staff on so it’s getting better,” owner David Hausknecht said.

Ben Pyka in a salmon farm.
Ben Pyka said COVID-19 had been a guillotine to the salmon farm’s bottom line.(ABC News: Jessica Moran)

For Deloraine salmon farm, 41 South Tasmania, the pandemic had been like a “guillotine” to the business’s bottom line, owner Ben Pyka said.

While supermarkets are still selling Mr Pyka’s salmon, he said the farm relied heavily on interstate tourists.

“We are seeing more Tasmanians come and visit which is nice, more from Hobart which isn’t a market we’ve really seen before,” he said.

Ten minutes north-west on the Bass Highway, Van Diemens Land Creamery is still closed.

The owners are using the time to renovate.

Dominique Ranicar in a coffee shop.
Elizabeth Town business owner Dominique Ranicar said the hardest part of the pandemic was telling her staff they didn’t have jobs anymore.(ABC News: Jessica Moran)

‘Massive financial hit’

The bakers’ ovens at the Elizabeth Town Cafe down the road have been kept hot by locals.

“People driving and stopping in is our bread and butter,” co-owner Dominique Ranicar said.

She said the cafe closed for five weeks when the north-west COVID-19 outbreak intensified and reopened in May.

“We’re slowly building from there,” Ms Ranicar said.

Further north at Latrobe, there is a sense life is slowly returning to normal.

Car parks are full and most businesses have reopened.

During the pandemic, gift and toy store Reliquaire sold out of jigsaw puzzles multiple times and struggled to keep up with demand.

Reliquaire’s Emily Johnstone said she, like many business owners, was happy to keep Tasmania’s borders closed — for now.

“Obviously there’s a lot of businesses that rely on interstate and international tourists and we do feel for them.

“We do want the borders to be reopened — but only when they can be opened safely,” she said.



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Iran records highest daily death toll from COVID-19


Iran on Tuesday described a new single-day file loss of life toll of 229 from coronavirus, right after weeks of mounting numbers in the Center East’s worst-strike state.

“Sadly, we missing 229 of our compatriots to the COVID-19 an infection in the past 24 hours,” health and fitness ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari mentioned.

“This raises the overall toll to 14,634,” she mentioned in televised remarks.

Iran announced its prior document COVID-19 death toll of 221 on 9 July.

The Islamic republic has been battling a resurgence of the virus, with official figures showing a rise in the two new infections and fatalities because a two-thirty day period reduced in Might.

Ms Lari also elevated the country’s caseload to 278,827, with 2,625 extra folks testing constructive for the disorder in the earlier day.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday.

Getty

Iran claimed its initially scenarios in the holy town of Qom in February.

The climbing toll has prompted authorities to make masks obligatory in enclosed community spaces and to allow for the most difficult-strike provinces to reimpose restrictive steps, with Tehran bundled.

Iran closed schools, cancelled community activities and banned movements involving its provinces in March, but progressively lifted limits from April to try to reopen its sanctions-strike economic climate.



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China blasts dam to release water as flooding death toll rises – National


Authorities in central China blasted a dam Sunday to release surging waters behind it amid widespread flooding across the country that has claimed scores of lives.

State broadcaster CCTV reported the dam on the Chuhe River in Anhui province was destroyed with explosives early Sunday morning, after which the water level was expected to drop by 70 centimetres (more than 2 feet).

Water levels on many rivers, including the mighty Yangtze, have been unusually high this year because of torrential rains.

Read more:
At least 14 killed by flooding in China as water peaks at Three Gorges Dam

Blasting dams and embankments to discharge water was an extreme response employed during China’s worst floods in recent years in 1998, when more than 2,000 people died and almost 3 million homes were destroyed.

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Last week, the gargantuan Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze opened three floodgates as the water level behind the massive dam rose more than 15 metres above flood level. Another flood crest is expected to arrive at the dam on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, soldiers and workers have been testing the strength of embankments and shoring them up with sandbags and rocks. On Saturday, firefighters and others finished filling in a 188-meter (620-foot) break on Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, that had caused widespread flooding across 15 villages and agricultural fields in Jiangxi province. More than 14,000 people were evacuated.






U.S. rejects China’s claims in South China Sea


U.S. rejects China’s claims in South China Sea

Seasonal flooding strikes large parts of China annually, especially in its central and southern regions, but has been especially severe this summer. More than 150 people have died or are missing in flooding and landslides brought on by the torrential rains — 23 of them since Thursday alone.

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About 1.8 million people have been evacuated and direct losses attributed to flooding are estimated at more than 49 billion yuan ($7 billion), according to the Ministry of Emergency Management.

Major cities have been spared so far, but concern has risen over Wuhan and other downstream metropolises that are home to tens of millions of people.




© 2020 The Canadian Press





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