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100 people killed, over 4,000 injured in deadly Beirut blasts

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A view of the scene of an explosion at the port of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut.

As many as 100 people were killed and more than 4,000 injured in two huge explosions that rocked downtown Beirut on Wednesday. The blasts took place on Tuesday evening, shaking buildings all over the city while also causing severe damage and casualties, Xinhua reported.

President Michel Aoun said that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilisers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures. He said that was “unacceptable”.

Officials did not say what caused the blaze that set off the blast. A security source and media said it was caused by welding work being carried out on a hole in the warehouse.

“It’s like a war zone. I’m speechless,” Beirut’s Mayor Jamal Itani told the media while inspecting the damage on Wednesday that he estimated would lead to losses in the billions of dollars. “This is a catastrophe for Beirut and Lebanon.”

 Many countries in the region expressed solidarity and sympathy with Lebanon over the explosions that have dealt a further blow to the country already plagued by the Covid-19 pandemic and an economic crisis.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that Iran is ready to offer help to Lebanon after the huge blasts caused massive casualties and damage in Beirut.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the great and resilient people of Lebanon,” Zarif tweeted.

 “As always, Iran is fully prepared to render assistance in any way necessary,” he said. “Stay strong, Lebanon,” he added.

Turkey on Tuesday expressed sorrow over the huge number of casualties and damage caused by the explosions.

 Two Turkish citizens sustained minor injuries in the blasts, said the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement.

 Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah alSisi extended his condolences to Lebanon over the deadly explosions and loss of life.

“My sincere condolences and sympathy go to the government and people of Lebanon, over the tragic explosions that happened today in the Lebanese capital Beirut,” Sisi wrote on his official Facebook page.

Sisi wished a speedy recovery to those injured in the blasts, while extending condolences to the families of the killed.

Palestine has also expressed solidarity with Lebanon following the massive explosions in Beirut.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said his country is ready to provide any support it could to Lebanon to help it recover from the tragedy, while sending his condolences to the families of the victims.

 Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye said in a press statement that Palestine is “ready to put all its capabilities” in the service of Lebanon and provide any needed assistance immediately.

With IANS inputs

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Smith won’t be bothered by short-pitch barrage: Andrew McDonald

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Australia’s No.1 batsman Steve Smith won’t be too worried about short-pitch deliveries from Indian fast bowlers during the upcoming tour Down Under, said the hosts’ assistant coach, Andrew McDonald.

“I don’t think it’s a weakness, is it? They’re taking a shot at that area to get him out early and then what you’ll see after that initial potential plan they will go to a more standard try and negate the runs [plan],” McDonald said in a virtual interaction with the media.

“I think they’ve used it before and he’s done well on it before. I’m suggesting that plan hasn’t necessarily worked to its full effect.”

Smith was felled by a short ball from England’s Jofra Archer during the 2019 Ashes, which marked his return to Test cricket after serving a one-year ban. While he missed one Test because of the injury, he scored as many as 774 runs in the series at an average of 110.57.

Smith was then peppered with short deliveries by New Zealand’s Neil Wagner in the Test series between the two sides later in the year.

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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the multi-storeyed flats for Members of Parliament on Monday at 11 am via video conferencing. The Speaker of Lok Sabha Om Birla will also be present on the occasion. According to an official release, these flats are located at Dr B.D. Marg in New Delhi. Eight old bungalows, which were more than 80 years old, have been redeveloped to construct 76 flats.

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday clarified that the new amendment made to the Kerala Police Act “will in no way be used to curtail free speech or impartial journalism”. His comments came a day after Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan signed the Police Amendment Act ordinance. As per the ordinance, the law is aimed at stopping cyberbullying, insulting and disgracing individuals on online platforms. Offenders are likely to face a jail term of up to five years or a penalty of Rs 10,000. In some cases, both the jail term and penalty may apply.

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India’s Covid final trials may end in 2 months: Health Minister

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NEW DELHI: Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said India’s own Covid-19 vaccine candidate could complete its final trials in a month or two. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and privately-held Bharat Biotech this month started third-stage trials of COVAXIN, in a process that would involve 26,000 volunteers. It is the most advanced Indian experimental vaccine. “We are in the process of developing our indigenous vaccines, in the process of completing our third-phase trials in the next one or two months,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said.

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