Beirut port manager among 16 held in blast probe, judicial source says

Beirut port manager among 16 held in blast probe, judicial source says

A soldier stands at the devastated site of the explosion at the port of Beirut
A soldier stands at the devastated site of the explosion at the port of Beirut, Lebanon on Aug 6, 2020. (Photo: Thibault Camus/Pool via REUTERS)

BEIRUT: Lebanese authorities have arrested 16 people in an investigation into the Beirut port warehouse explosion, state news agency NNA said on Thursday (Aug 6), and a judicial source and local media said the port's general manager was among those being held.

NNA did not name the individuals, but quoted Judge Fadi Akiki, a government representative at the military court, as saying authorities had so far questioned more than 18 port and customs officials and others involved in maintenance work at the warehouse.

"Sixteen people have been taken into custody as part of the investigation," NNA quoted Akiki as saying. He said the investigation was continuing.

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A judicial source and two local broadcasters said Beirut Port General Manager Hassan Koraytem was among those held. Earlier, the central bank said it froze the accounts of seven people including Koraytem and the head of Lebanese customs.

Soldiers patrol at the devastated site of the explosion at the port of Beirut
Soldiers patrol at the devastated site of the explosion at the port of Beirut, Lebanon Aug 6, 2020. (Thibault Camus/Pool via REUTERS)

An official source familiar with preliminary investigations blamed "inaction and negligence" for the blast.

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Tuesday's devastating explosion generated a seismic shock felt across the region. 

At least 145 people were killed and 5,000 injured. Dozens are still missing, while up to 250,000 were left without habitable homes in a country already staggering from economic meltdown and a surge in coronavirus cases.

Source: Reuters/kv

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