Lebanese president on external interference in Beirut blast
Lebanon’s president said an investigation into the Beirut port warehouse explosion was looking at whether it was caused by negligence, an accident or possible external interference, his office cited him as telling local media on Friday.
“The cause has not been determined yet. There is a possibility of external interference through a rocket or bomb or other act,” President Michel Aoun said in comments carried by local media and confirmed by his office.
He said the probe into Tuesday’s blast at a warehouse housing highly-explosive material was being conducted on three levels. “First, how the explosive material entered and was stored … second whether the explosion was a result of negligence or an accident … and third the possibility that there was external interference.”
Lebanon navigates food challenge with no grain silo and few stocks
Tuesday’s blast in Beirut destroyed Lebanon’s only large grain silo, with plans for another in the country’s second biggest port Tripoli shelved years ago due to a lack of funding, the U.N.’s FAO, Tripoli port director and a regional grain expert told Reuters.
The destruction of the 120,000-tonne capacity structure and of the port, the main entry point for food imports, means buyers will have to rely on smaller private storage facilities for their wheat purchases, exacerbating fears of food shortages. Lebanon, a nation of an estimated 6 million people, imports almost all of its wheat. Around 15,000 tonnes were stored at the silo when the explosion hit and that Lebanon needed an inventory of around three months’ supply at any time for food security purposes.
EU pledges to aid Lebanon in wake of Beirut explosion
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says trade benefits aimed at supporting Lebanon are being explored following Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut.
World Food Programme plans wheat imports for Beirut
The World Food Programme plans to import wheat flour and grains for bakeries and mills to help protect against food shortages across Lebanon after Tuesday’s blast wrecked its main port in Beirut, the United Nations agency said on Friday.
“WFP is concerned that the explosion and the damage to the port will exacerbate an already grim food security situation – that has worsened because of the country’s profound financial crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic,” a spokeswoman said in notes prepared for a U.N. briefing in Geneva, adding it would be providing food parcels to thousands of families.
“WFP also stands ready to offer supply chain management and logistical support and expertise to Lebanon,” it said
Japan sends emergency assistance to Beirut
The Department of Humanitarian Aid and Relief in Emergencies at the Japanese Foreign Ministry issued a statement to announce: “From a humanitarian perspective, due to the close relations between Japan and Lebanon and upon the request of the Lebanese government, Japan has decided to provide urgent relief to Lebanon which includes: tents, sleeping beds, blankets, water purifiers, and other essential equipment”. The relief supplies were sent through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Last photograph of heroic Beirut firefighters
A photograph of 10 members of the Beirut fire department who had been called to deal with a fire at the city’s port on Tuesday has emerged. It is presumed that all members of the team lost their lives in the explosion.
80% of the port of Beirut has been completely destroyed
Tuesday’s explosion at the port of Beirut was another hammer blow to the country’s economy which had already been suffering the ongoing effects of the coronavirus crisis.
“Lebanon’s economic crisis had already reduced the profit through the Port of Beirut from 20 million U.S. dollars to less than 10 million dollars per month. Now, as 80% of the port is destroyed, we can no longer expect any profit or benefit from the dockland facility,” Patrick Mardini, president of the Lebanese Institute for Market Studies said in a statement.
Did ‘The Simpsons’ Predict Beirut Blast?
After successfully predicting Donald Trump’s Presidency and the outbreak of the coronavirus outbreak, it now seems that the long-running animated television show created by Matt Groening may have predicted yet another catastrophe – the Beirut explosion.
In the thirty years that the show has been running, the writers have been able to accurately “predict” numerous events before they actually happened, and no one knows how. The writers have to think a year in advance because the episodes are aired one year after they’re shot. But it is quite eerie accurate some of these predictions are.
And this time, many Simpsons fans and social media users have been finding similarities between some episodes the show and the recent events that unfolded in Beirut. On Tuesday, a portside warehouse containing seized explosives exploded, sending shockwaves across the capital of Lebanon.
As images and videos of a giant plume of smoke that looked like the result of a nuclear blast spread quickly on social media, many found similarities to similar images depicted in The Simpsons.
Many referenced the ‘Treehouse of Horror XV’ episode, which aired in the show’s 16th season and depicted how Homer Simpson accidentally blew up the city of Springfield. The episode first aired in 2004.
Others, however, pointed out that the similarities were just coincidences. Nevertheless, this is not the first time that The Simpsons have played Nostradamus at predicting events across the world through its satirical storylines.
Stills from a 1993 episode, where an illness called the ‘Osaka Virus’ created chaos in Springfield, infecting everyone including Homer and Principal Skinner who further spread the germs, much like coronavirus.
In one still from the show, the words ‘corona virus’ can be seen printed behind the image of a news anchor.
Truth stranger than fiction. But when it comes to The Simpsons, it seems the truth is exactly (or almost) the same as fiction.