Beirut protests continue despite PM’s resignation

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Beirut protests continue despite PM’s resignation


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Media captionCrowds in Beirut hold a minute of silence, exactly one week after a huge blast in the port area of the city

People in Beirut have attended a vigil for the more than 200 victims of the huge explosion that devastated the Lebanese capital a week ago.

A crowd stood in silence near the ruins of the city’s port as a Muslim call to prayer was broadcast and church bells tolled at 18:09 (15:09 GMT).

That was the exact time when 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in a port warehouse detonated.

There has been outrage that so much hazardous material was kept there.

The Lebanese government’s resignation on Monday failed to pacify protesters, who clashed with police in central Beirut for a third consecutive night.

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Media captionStarting with the epicentre, we follow how the blast ripped through the city, bringing life to a halt

Lebanon was already struggling with an unprecedented economic crisis before the disaster, with families pushed into poverty and hunger.

Since October, protesters have been demanding the complete overhaul of the political system, which they blame for government corruption and mismanagement.

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Media captionThe BBC’s Quentin Sommerville speaks to the fiancé of Sahar Fares, a firefighter medic who died in the blast

Prime Minister Hassan Diab, a university professor who took office in January with the support of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and its allies following the resignation of the previous government, announced his cabinet’s resignation in a televised address on Monday night.

He avoided taking responsibility for last week’s blast, blaming it on the entrenched political elite.

“Their corruption created this tragedy,” he said. “Between us and change stands a thick wall protected by their dirty tactics.”

Mr Diab said that his caretaker administration would “follow the will of the people in their demand to hold accountable those responsible for the disaster”.

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Reuters

Image caption

Anti-government protesters launched fireworks at riot police

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