EU urges independent inquiry into cause of Beirut blasts

Brussels, Aug 10 (IANS) European Council President Charles Michel has urged an independent investigation into the cause of the two deadly explosions in the Port of Beirut last week that killed 158 people and injured over 6,000 others.

“What struck me most yesterday was the need for confidence, the need for trust and the need to know the truth,” Xinhua news agency quoted Michel as saying on Sunday while addressing the international conference on assistance and support to Beirut.

He was referring to his visit to the damaged site in the Lebanese capital on Saturday.

“The people in Lebanon want to know the truth, they deserve transparency and justice. An independent and credible inquiry into the cause of this tragedy is therefore crucial,” he added.

Michel also mentioned that the bloc has offered 33 million euros ($38 million) as an initial aid, and pledged on Sunday an additional amount of 30 million euros to address the urgent needs.

Some 300 experts from the EU and its member states have been deployed on the ground in Lebanon, providing help in search and rescue, chemical assessment and medical treatment.

In a separate development on Sunday, Lebanese environment minister Demianos Kattar submitted his resignation, just hours after Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad stepped down from his post.

A number of MPs also submitted their resignations a day earlier due to the explosions that also destroyed a big part of the city.

Also on Sunday, thousands of protesters took to the streets in Beirut for a second consecutive day demonstrating against the government.

On Saturday, more than 700 protesters were wounded in clashes with riot police who used tear gas and live bullets in a bid to disperse crowds.



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