The President of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, reported this Wednesday that the explosion of last day 4 in the port of Beirut, which has caused the death of 171 people and more than 6,000 injured, has left the country losses on the order of 15,000 million dollars.
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The tragedy also turned the country upside down by the recognition of the head of state himself that for weeks before the explosion occurred, he had already known of the existence of the 2,750-ton load of ammonium nitrate that caused it.
“President Aoun was informed on July 20, 2020 through the State Security report of the presence of a large quantity of ammonium nitrate in a warehouse in the port of Beirut, His Excellency’s Military Adviser informed the Secretary General of the Supreme Defense Council, “the Presidency said in a statement.
Cost of damage
Aoun reported today for the first time that initial estimates sLosses from the explosion exceed 15,000 million dollars in a call to the King of Spain, Felipe VI.
“President Aoun received a call of condolences and solidarity from King Felipe VI of Spain; the initial estimates of losses exceed 15,000 million dollars,” the Lebanese Presidency said in a statement.
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The last known loss figure was provided by the Beirut Governorate authorities, who assured in the first days that the damages could be around 3,000 or 5,000 million dollars, some numbers that are far from those contributed by Aoun.
Felipe VI expressed his condolences and solidarity to the Lebanese president, and also conveyed the willingness of the Spanish Government to make “any additional effort” to help erase the traces of the “painful” deflagration in the Lebanese capital.
Precisely on Tuesday a plane of the Spanish Air Force landed in Beirut with emergency aid for Lebanon, including 10 tons of wheat flour donated by the Olof Palme International Foundation, as well as medical supplies and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) sent by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.
UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock had already warned that rebuilding would cost billions of dollars.
The president seeks the truth
But Aoun made more surprising revelations Wednesday. The recognition that he knew the fertilizer to which the tragedy is attributed came after several Lebanese media speculated that both he and the prime minister, Hasan Diab, who resigned on the 10th, knew of the existence of the large amount of ammonium nitrate in the port.
“The Presidency of the Republic has every interest in the judicial investigation to continue its course and making use of all experiences to show the complete truth about the explosion, its circumstances and those responsible for it at all levels,” according to the statement from presidency.
And, according to his version, Aoun’s advisor made this information known in the presence of the Council of Ministers “so that it could take the necessary measures” and the secretary general of the Supreme Defense Council then sent the text to the departments ” competent “.
Aoun is under strong pressure not only from the street, where there have been constant protests since the explosion a week ago to demand the departure of the entire ruling class, salso on the part of some political sectors.
Two days ago, the president accepted the resignation of the Government presented by Diab and asked him to continue in office until the formation of a new Executive.
No crisis of bread
For his part, the Lebanese Minister of Economy, Raoul Nehme, said this Wednesday that “there is no bread crisis” in the country and that there is enough flour for the next four months, after the devastating explosion destroyed the silos that stored wheat in the port of Beirut.
Lebanon’s mills have 32,000 tons storedNehme detailed on his official Twitter account, in addition to 110,000 tons that have arrived or are going to arrive within a period of two weeks. “The reserves are sufficient for four months,” according to the minister.