Beirut blast survivors sift rubble for bodies as death toll continues to rise

Survivors of a massive explosion that devastated the Lebanese capital of Beirut last night were picking through the remains of their city for victims today as the death toll topped 100 and was expected to continue rising, with more than 4,000 wounded.

The city, once known as the Paris of the Middle East, resembled a huge scrapyard as the sun rose on Wednesday – with barely a building left unscathed in a blast caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that exploded with a fifth of the power of the atomic bomb that levelled Hiroshima.

Street after street, neighbourhood after neighbourhood, buildings were left without roofs or windows, their interiors shredded by the force of the explosion – believed to have been sparked when a welder caused a fire at the port, which in turn set light to a warehouse storing chemicals which had been seized from a ship six years ago.

After a night of shock and awe, the full scale of the calamity now facing Lebanon – a country that was already in the midst of an economic crisis – was laid bare at dawn, as hospitals struggled to cope with the influx of wounded and the threat of recriminations hung in the air, along with smoke from still-burning fires. 

Prime Minister Hassan Diab vowed those responsible will ‘pay the price’ as he declared a two-week state of emergency to deal with the crisis. 

The United States, the UK, France, the Gulf states and even bitter rivals Israel have offered aid to the country, which is already grappling with twin economic and coronavirus crises. 

President Michel Aoun declared three days of mourning, and announced he would release 100 billion lira ($66 million) of emergency funds. 

General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim earlier said the ‘highly explosive material’ had been confiscated years earlier, reportedly from a ship.

President Donald Trump last night called the explosion a ‘terrible attack’ and said US generals had told him it appeared to have been caused by a ‘bomb of some kind’, without offering evidence. 

A massive explosion has rocked Beirut this afternoon destroying buildings and sending a huge fireball into the sky

Dramatic footage shows smoke billowing from the port area shortly before an enormous fireball explodes into the sky and blankets the city in a thick mushroom cloud

Dramatic footage on social media shows people screaming as an enormous blast rocks the waterside area of Lebanon's capital city

Dramatic footage shows smoke billowing from the port area shortly before an enormous fireball explodes into the sky and blankets the city in a thick mushroom cloud

Wounded people are treated at a hospital following the explosion, which has left hundreds of casualties in Beirut last night

Wounded people are treated at a hospital following the explosion, which has left hundreds of casualties in Beirut last night

It lay waste to the immediate surrounding buildings, where firefighters were still battling flames this evening, and even wreaked havoc on districts miles away from the blast site

It lay waste to the immediate surrounding buildings, where firefighters were still battling flames this evening, and even wreaked havoc on districts miles away from the blast site

A Lebanese army helicopter flies over the site of the blast in Beirut's port area on Wednesday morning as smoke still rises from the rubble

A Lebanese army helicopter flies over the site of the blast in Beirut’s port area on Wednesday morning as smoke still rises from the rubble

A view of the damages after an explosion at the Beirut Port yesterday evening. Witnesses have stressed the sheer enormity of the blast, which was heard 125 miles away in Cyprus, and likened it to a 'nuclear bomb'

A view of the damages after an explosion at the Beirut Port yesterday evening. Witnesses have stressed the sheer enormity of the blast, which was heard 125 miles away in Cyprus, and likened it to a ‘nuclear bomb’

A destroyed facade of a building is seen following the blast on Tuesday. Rescuers worked throughout the night to find people amid the devastation

A destroyed facade of a building is seen following the blast on Tuesday. Rescuers worked throughout the night to find people amid the devastation

Police and forensic officers work at the scene of an explosion on Wednesday morning and rescuers continue to look for survivors

Police and forensic officers work at the scene of an explosion on Wednesday morning and rescuers continue to look for survivors

The aftermath this morning of the destroyed port. Prime Minister Hassan Diab has vowed those responsible will 'pay the price' and plunged the country into a two-week state of emergency

The aftermath this morning of the destroyed port. Prime Minister Hassan Diab has vowed those responsible will ‘pay the price’ and plunged the country into a two-week state of emergency

Fires continue to burn at the industrial port late into the night in Beirut following the deadly blasts

Fires continue to burn at the industrial port late into the night in Beirut following the deadly blasts 

Medics shift an injured person from Najjar Hospital to another hospital in Al-Hamra area in Beirut after several hospitals were damaged in the blast

Medics shift an injured person from Najjar Hospital to another hospital in Al-Hamra area in Beirut after several hospitals were damaged in the blast  

Lebanese army soldier runs at the scene of an explosion at Beirut's port

Lebanese army soldier runs at the scene of an explosion at Beirut’s port 

Trump calls deadly Beirut explosions a ‘terrible attack’ 

President Trump

President Trump

President Donald Trump described deadly explosions as a ‘terrible attack’ during a Tuesday press conference, despite no evidence suggesting the blasts were intentional.

A series of massive explosions in the Lebanese capital’s port area rocked the city earlier today, killing at least 70 people and injuring more than 3,000 others. 

‘The United States stands ready to assist Lebanon,’ Trump said at a White House briefing. ‘We will be there to help. It looks like a terrible attack.’

When quizzed by a reporter if he was certain the explosion was in fact an attack, Trump confirmed that he was, insisting he had ‘met with some of our great generals and they seem to feel that it was.

‘They would know better than I would,’ the president continued. ‘They seem to think … it was a bomb of some kind, yes.’

The U.S. embassy in Beirut warned residents in the city about reports of toxic gases released by the blast, urging people to stay indoors and wear masks if available. 

Critical infrastructure was affected by the blast, including the port, the airport and hospitals.

Firefighters had already been on the scene dealing with an initial blaze when the explosion took place. One security source told Reuters today that the initial fire was caused during welding work on a hole in a warehouse wall.

That fire spread, and before firefighters could control it, apparently detonated the ammonium nitrate. 

One Israeli bomb expert suggested fireworks could have been involved in the initial blaze.

Explosives certification expert Boaz Hayoun said: ‘Before the big explosion … in the center of the fire, you can see sparks, you can hear sounds like popcorn and you can hear whistles. This is very specific behavior of fireworks.’

After the second, more devastating explosion, images showed port buildings reduced to tangled masonry, devastating the main entry point to a country that relies on food imports to feed its population of more than six million. 

Charbel Haj, who works at the harbour, said the explosion started as small explosions like firecrackers before he was suddenly thrown off his feet by the huge blast. 

The explosion damaged the Roum Hospital, which put out a call for people to bring it spare generators to keep its electricity going as it evacuated patients because of heavy damage.

Outside the St George University Hospital in Beirut’s Achrafieh neighbuorhood, people with various injuries arrived in ambulances, in cars and on foot.

The explosion had caused major damage inside the building and knocked out the electricity at the hospital. Dozens of injured were being treated on the spot on the street outside, on stretchers and wheelchairs.   

Lebanon’s Red Cross said it had been drowning in calls from injured people, many who are still trapped in their homes.  

Miles from the scene of the blast, balconies were knocked down, ceiling collapsed and windows were shattered.  

Beirut’s main airport, six miles away from the port, was reportedly damaged by the explosion, with pictures showing sections of collapsed ceiling. 

Beirut’s governor told journalists he does not know the cause of the explosion and said he had never seen such destruction, comparing the sobering scenes to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  

Local Fady Roumieh was stood in the car park to shopping centre ABC Mall Achrafieh, around 2km east of the blast, when the explosion occurred.

Ammonium nitrate: the fertilizer behind many industrial accidents

Ammonium nitrate, which Lebanese authorities have said was the cause of the Beirut blast, is an odorless crystalline substance commonly used as a fertilizer that has been the cause of numerous industrial explosions over the decades.

These include notably at a Texas fertilizer plant in 2013 that killed 15 and was ruled deliberate, and another at a chemical plant in Toulouse, France in 2001 that killed 31 people but was accidental.

When combined with fuel oils, ammonium nitrate creates a potent explosive widely used by the construction industry, but also by insurgent groups like the Taliban for improvised explosives.

It was also a component in the bomb behind the 1995 Oklahoma City attack.

In agriculture, ammonium nitrate fertilizer is applied in granule form and quickly dissolves under moisture, allowing nitrogen — which is key to plant growth — to be released into the soil.

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored for years in a Beirut portside warehouse had blown up, killing dozens of people and causing unprecedented damage to the Lebanese capital.

However, under normal storage conditions and without very high heat, it is difficult to ignite ammonium nitrate, Jimmie Oxley, a chemistry professor at the University of Rhode Island, told AFP.

‘If you look at the video (of the Beirut explosion), you saw the black smoke, you saw the red smoke, that was an incomplete reaction,’ she said.

‘I am assuming that there was a small explosion that instigated the reaction of the ammonium nitrate — whether that small explosion was an accident or something on purpose I haven’t heard yet.’

That’s because ammonium nitrate is an oxidizer — it intensifies combustion and allows other substances to ignite more readily, but is not itself very combustible.

For these reasons, there are generally very strict rules about where it can be stored: for example, it must be kept away from fuels and sources of heat.

In fact, many countries in the European Union require that calcium carbonate to be added to ammonium nitrate to create calcium ammonium nitrate, which is safer.

In the United States, regulations were tightened significantly after the Oklahoma City attack.

He said: ‘It was like a nuclear bomb. The damage is so widespread and severe all over the city. 

‘Some buildings as far as 2km are partially collapsed. It’s like a war zone. The damage is extreme. Not one glass window intact.’ 

A soldier at the port, where relatives of the missing scrambled for news of their loved ones, said: ‘It’s a catastrophe inside. There are corpses on the ground. Ambulances are still lifting the dead.’

A woman in her twenties stood screaming at security forces, asking about the fate of her brother, a port employee.

‘His name is Jad, his eyes are green,’ she pleaded, to no avail as officers refused her entry.

‘It was like an atomic bomb,’ said Makrouhie Yerganian, a retired schoolteacher in her mid-70s who has lived near the port for decades.

‘I’ve experienced everything, but nothing like this before,’ even during the country’s 1975-1990 civil war, she said.

‘All the buildings around here have collapsed.’  

One witness said: ‘I saw a fireball and smoke billowing over Beirut. People were screaming and running, bleeding. 

‘Balconies were blown off buildings. Glass in high-rise buildings shattered and fell to the street.’ 

Rami Rifai, a 38-year-old engineer,from a hospital where his two daughters were receiving treatment after sustaining cuts despite being half a kilometre from the seat of the blast said: ‘We’ve had some dark days in Lebanon over the years but this is something else.

‘We already had the economic crisis, a government of thieves and coronavirus. I didn’t think it could get worse but now I don’t know if this country can get up again. Everyone is going to try to leave. I will try to leave,’ he said, his voice choked by tears.

One resident of Mar Mikhail, one of the most affected neighbourhoods, said she saw bodies strewn in the middle of the street, apparently thrown off balconies and rooftops by the blast. 

For a long time after the blast, ambulance sirens sounded across the city and helicopters hovered above. 

Residents said glass was broken in houses from Raouche, on the Mediterranean city’s western tip, to Rabieh 10 km (6 miles) east). 

And in Cyprus, a Mediterranean island lying 110 miles (180 km) northwest of Beirut, residents reported hearing two large bangs in quick succession. 

One resident of the capital Nicosia said his house shook, rattling shutters.  

‘We do not have information about what has happened precisely, what has caused this, whether its accidental or manmade act,’ he said. 

Condolences poured in from across the world with Gulf nations, the United States and even Lebanon’s arch foe Israel offering to send aid. France also promised to send assistance.

The blast revived memories of a 1975-90 civil war and its aftermath, when Lebanese endured heavy shelling, car bombings and Israeli air raids. Some residents thought an earthquake had struck. 

‘The blast blew me off metres away. I was in a daze and was all covered in blood. It brought back the vision of another explosion I witnessed against the U.S. embassy in 1983,’ said Huda Baroudi, a Beirut designer. 

Footage shows a thick column of smoke rising from the port before an explosion sends a fireball into the sky

A general view of the harbor area with smoke billowing from an area of a large explosion, with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor area of Beirut

A general view of the harbor area with smoke billowing from an area of a large explosion, with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor area of Beirut

Lebanese firefighters work at the scene of explosion at the Beirut Port, Beirut following the huge explosion yesterday evening

Lebanese firefighters work at the scene of explosion at the Beirut Port, Beirut following the huge explosion yesterday evening 

An injured man covered in blood is seen in Beirut following the explosion in Beirut on Tuesday

An injured man covered in blood is seen in Beirut following the explosion in Beirut on Tuesday

A man reacts at the scene of an explosion at the port in Lebanon's capital Beirut on August 4

A man reacts at the scene of an explosion at the port in Lebanon’s capital Beirut on August 4

Glass is shattered by the explosion at the Cavalier Hotel in Beirut following the explosion

Glass is shattered by the explosion at the Cavalier Hotel in Beirut following the explosion 

Pictures shows the scene of an explosion at the port in the Lebanese capital Beirut, which lay waste to surrounding buildings

Pictures shows the scene of an explosion at the port in the Lebanese capital Beirut, which lay waste to surrounding buildings

Firefighters spray water at a fire after an explosion was heard in Beirut

Firefighters spray water at a fire after an explosion was heard in Beirut

Explosion rocks Lebanon during time of deep economic turmoil 

The explosion comes amid political tension in Lebanon, with street demonstrations against the government’s handling the worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Late last year investigators revealed what was effectively a state-sponsored pyramid scheme being run by the central bank, which was borrowing from commercial banks at above-market interest rates to pay back its debts and maintain the Lebanese pound’s fixed exchange rate with the US dollar.

In January mass protests against the corruption allegations and a faltering economy led to the fall of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s government.

His predecessor , Independent Hassan Diab, cut the country’s budget by $700million and put in place a financial rescue plan a month later.

But Lebanon’s problems have persisted after the Covid-19 pandemic forced global border closures, and protests have returned after the Lebanese pound fell in value, despite a lockdown being imposed in March.

Many businesses have been forced to close, but as prices continue to rise with a devalued currency some are struggling to buy basic necessities, and the prime minister warned that Lebanon was at risk of a ‘major food crisis’.

Analysts suggest the crisis has been prolonged because of political sectarianism, with the president, prime minister and speaker split between the three largest cultural groups; Christians; Shia Muslim; and Sunni Muslims.

Parliament is also drawn down the middle between Christian and Muslim members.

With the country’s governance in need of unity between the competing groups, external powers have been able to interfere in the country. Iran, for instance, backs the militant Hezbollah Shia movement

UN chief Antonio Guterres expressed his ‘deepest condolences … following the horrific explosions in Beirut’ which he said had also injured some United Nations personnel. 

Boris Johnson offered to help the crisis-hit country, tweeting: ‘The pictures and videos from Beirut tonight are shocking. 

‘All of my thoughts and prayers are with those caught up in this terrible incident. The UK is ready to provide support in any way we can, including to those British nationals affected.’ 

The UK Foreign Office has said a few of its embassy staff sustained non-life threatening injuries in the blast. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said in a tweet: ‘The images of explosions in Beirut are deeply worrying. Our thoughts are with those affected, the emergency services and the people of Lebanon.’ 

Offers of aid also came from bitter rivals Israel, with which it is still technically at war. 

Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, on behalf of the State of Israel, have offered the Lebanese government – via international intermediaries – medical and humanitarian aid, as well as immediate emergency assistance,’ said a joint statement from the two ministries. 

Last week, Israel accused the Lebanese group Hezbollah of trying to send gunmen across the UN-demarcated Blue Line and said it held the Lebanese government responsible for what it termed an attempted ‘terrorist’ attack. 

Hezbollah said all of the country’s political powers must unite to overcome the ‘painful catastrophe’. 

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that France stood ‘alongside Lebanon’ and was ready to help, tweeting: ‘France stands and will always stand by the side of Lebanon and the Lebanese. It is ready to provide assistance according to the needs expressed by the Lebanese authorities. 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: ‘We are monitoring and stand ready to assist the people of Lebanon as they recover from this horrible tragedy.’

Iran’s foreign minister has said it is standing by to help Lebanon recover from the fallout of the explosion.

Countries in the Gulf paid tribute to victims of the explosion as Qatar said it would send field hospitals to support Lebanon’s medical response.

Qatar’s ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani called President Michel Aoun to offer condolences, according to the state-run Qatar News Agency.

Sheikh Tamim wished ‘a speedy recovery for the injured,’ adding that he ‘expressed Qatar’s solidarity with brotherly Lebanon and its willingness to provide all kinds of assistance’. 

Buildings and cars are partially destroyed in the neighbourhood of Mar Mikhael following an explosion at the port of Beirut last night

Buildings and cars are partially destroyed in the neighbourhood of Mar Mikhael following an explosion at the port of Beirut last night 

Firefighters douse a blaze at the city's port tonight following the deadly explosion which has wreaked devestation on Beirut

Firefighters douse a blaze at the city’s port tonight following the deadly explosion which has wreaked devestation on Beirut

Smoke billows from harbor area with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor of Beirut

Smoke billows from harbor area with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor of Beirut

The thick plume of smoke looms over the city of Beirut on Tuesday evening after the explosion at the port

The thick plume of smoke looms over the city of Beirut on Tuesday evening after the explosion at the port

A view shows the damages entrance of a store in Burj Abu Haidar area in Beirut

A view shows the damages entrance of a store in Burj Abu Haidar area in Beirut

Israel among the countries to offer bomb-struck Beirut humanitarian aid 

In a televised message this evening, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab called on all ‘friendly and brotherly countries to stand by Lebanon’, hours after the bomb blast which tore through downtown Beirut, killing dozens, wounding thousands, and destroying countless buildings in the city centre. 

Among those to answer the call were Iran, Britain and France. 

Israel, whom Lebanon is still technically at war with, also offered their support. 

‘Following the explosion in Beirut, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, on behalf of the State of Israel, have offered the Lebanese government – via international intermediaries – medical and humanitarian aid, as well as immediate emergency assistance,’ said a joint statement from the two ministries.

The offer comes after two weeks of heightened tensions between the rival neighbours, with a series of border clashes between the Israeli Defence Forces and Hezbollah on Israel’s northern frontier. 

Israel accused the Lebanese group Hezbollah of trying to send gunmen across the UN-demarcated Blue Line and said it held the Lebanese government responsible for what it termed an attempted ‘terrorist’ attack.

Hezbollah and Israel last fought a 33-day war in the summer of 2006.  

Elsewhere in the Gulf, the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted that ‘our hearts are with Beirut and its people’.

He posted the tribute alongside an image of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, illuminated in the colours of the Lebanese flag.

‘Our prayers during these difficult hours are that God… protects brotherly Lebanon and the Lebanese to reduce their affliction and heal their wounds,’ he wrote.

Gulf countries including Qatar and the UAE maintain close ties with Beirut and have long provided financial aid and diplomatic assistance to mediate Lebanon’s political and sectarian divisions.

Bahrain’s foreign ministry urged its nationals in Lebanon to contact the ministry’s operations centre or Manama’s representative in Beirut, while Kuwait ordered its citizens to take extreme caution and stay indoors. 

It comes just days before a United Nations tribunal is set to rule on the assassination of the country’s former PM Rafik Hariri.

The house of his son, Saad Hariri, who also led the country, was damaged by the blast but he was confirmed safe.

Save the Children said in a statement that members of their team on the ground in the city have reported entire streets destroyed and children unaccounted for.

Despite the charity’s offices in the city being badly damaged, they have pledged that a rapid response team is ready to offer support.

Jad Sakr, Save the Children’s country director in Lebanon, said: ‘We are shocked and devastated by the explosion today.

‘The death toll may not be known for several days but we do know is that in a disaster like this, children may be hurt, shocked and separated from their parents.

‘Our child protection teams are ready to support the government’s efforts, which will almost certainly go on for several days to come.

‘It is vital that children and their families get access to the services they urgently need, including medical care and physical and emotional protection.’

He added: ‘The incident could not have occurred at a worst time and has hit communities who were already suffering from the impact of the Covid-19 crisis and the economic deterioration.

‘Beirut’s main port, now completely damaged, is vital for much of the food, grains and fuel that Lebanon imports, and families will immediately feel the shortage in basic needs as a result of this tragedy.’

Lebanese President Michel Aoun holds a High Defence Council meeting at the Baabda Palace following the blast

Lebanese President Michel Aoun holds a High Defence Council meeting at the Baabda Palace following the blast

A car if left flipped on its roof on a motorway as a result of the devastating impact of the explosion yesterday

A car if left flipped on its roof on a motorway as a result of the devastating impact of the explosion yesterday

A mobile phone image showing a general view of the harbor area with smoke billowing from an area of a large exoplosion, with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor area of Beirut

A mobile phone image showing a general view of the harbor area with smoke billowing from an area of a large exoplosion, with damage and debris after a large explosion rocked the harbor area of Beirut

People on the street in Beirue which is strewn with debris from damaged buildings following the explosion

People on the street in Beirue which is strewn with debris from damaged buildings following the explosion

The loud blast in Beirut's port area was felt across large parts of the city and some districts lost electricity

The loud blast in Beirut’s port area was felt across large parts of the city and some districts lost electricity

The health minister told Reuters there was a "very high number" of injured. Al Mayadeen TV said hundreds were wounded

The health minister told Reuters there was a ‘very high number’ of injured. Al Mayadeen TV said hundreds were wounded

Witnesses have reported bystanders injured by falling debris from buildings and shards of glass flying towards people after the shockwave smashed out windows

Witnesses have reported bystanders injured by falling debris from buildings and shards of glass flying towards people after the shockwave smashed out windows

A wounded man walks near the scene of an explosion in Beirut

A wounded man walks near the scene of an explosion in Beirut

A large explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut last night. The blast, which rattled entire buildings and broke glass, was felt in several parts of the city

A large explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut last night. The blast, which rattled entire buildings and broke glass, was felt in several parts of the city

Israel denies any involvement in Beirut port blast that comes amid rising tensions in between Lebanon and its neighbour

by WILL COLE for MailOnline 

Israel has denied having anything to do with the huge explosion in Beirut, adding that the country was ready to give humanitarian and medical assistance to Lebanon.

The huge explosion in port warehouses near the city centre as killed more than 70 people, injured at least 4,000 and sent shockwaves that shattered windows, smashed masonry and shook the ground.

Officials said they expected the death toll to rise further after Tuesday’s blast as emergency workers dug through rubble to rescue people and remove the dead. It was the most powerful explosion in years to hit Beirut, which is already reeling from an economic crisis and a surge in coronavirus infections.

Lebanon’s interior minister said initial information indicated highly explosive material, seized years ago, that had been stored at the port had blown up. Israel, which has fought several wars with Lebanon, denied any role.

‘Israel has approached Lebanon through international security and diplomatic channels and has offered the Lebanese government medical and humanitarian assistance,’ a written statement from Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said. 

Shi’ite Iran, the main backer of militant political party Hezbollah, also offered support, as did Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, a leading Sunni power. 

Lebanon's interior minister said initial information indicated highly explosive material, seized years ago, that had been stored at the port had blown up

Lebanon’s interior minister said initial information indicated highly explosive material, seized years ago, that had been stored at the port had blown up

‘What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe,’ the head of Lebanon’s Red Cross George Kettani told broadcaster Mayadeen. ‘There are victims and casualties everywhere.’

Hours after the blast, which struck shortly after 6 p.m. (1500 GMT), a fire still blazed in the port district, casting an orange glow across the night sky as helicopters hovered and ambulance sirens sounded across the capital.

A security source said victims were taken for treatment outside the city because Beirut hospitals were packed with wounded. Ambulances from the north and south of the country and the Bekaa valley to the east were called in to help.

The blast was so big that some residents in the city, where memories of heavy shelling during the 1975 to 1990 civil war live on, thought an earthquake had struck. Dazed, weeping and wounded people walked through streets searching for relatives.

‘I promise you that this catastrophe will not pass without accountability,’ Prime Minister Hassan Diab told the nation.

‘Those responsible will pay the price,’ he said in his televised address, adding that details about the ‘dangerous warehouse’ would be made public.

The interior minister told Al Jadeed TV that ammonium nitrate had been stored at the port since 2014.

The U.S. embassy in Beirut warned residents in the city about reports of toxic gases released by the blast, urging people to stay indoors and wear masks if available. 

Footage of the explosion shared by residents on social media showed a column of smoke rising from the port followed by an enormous blast, sending up a white cloud and a fireball into the sky. Those filming the incident from high buildings 2 km (one mile) from the port were thrown backwards by the shock.

It was not immediately clear what caused the initial blaze on Tuesday that set off the blast.

Lebanon’s health minister said more than 50 people had been killed and more than 2,750 injured. Lebanon’s Red Cross said hundreds of people had been taken to hospitals.

The governor of Beirut port told Sky News a team of firefighters, who were battling the initial blaze, had ‘disappeared’ after the explosion.

President Michel Aoun called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared. He said it was ‘unacceptable’ that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were stored for six years without safety measures.

The prime minister called for a day of mourning. 

The explosion occurred three days before a U.N.-backed court is due to deliver a verdict in the trial of four suspects from the Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah over a 2005 bombing which killed former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and 21 others.

Hariri was killed by a huge truck bomb on the same waterfront, about 2 km (about one mile) from the port. 

Western countries including the United States, Britain and France also said they were ready to assist.

Images showed port buildings reduced to tangled masonry, devastating the main entry point to a country that relies on food imports to feed its population of more than 6 million.

It threatens a new humanitarian crisis in a nation that hosts hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and which is already grappling with economic meltdown under one of the world’s biggest debt burdens.

Residents said glass was broken in neighbourhoods on Beirut’s Mediterranean coast and inland suburbs several kms (miles) away. In Cyprus, a Mediterranean island 110 miles (180 km) across the sea from Beirut, residents heard the blast. One resident in Nicosia said his house and window shutters shook.

Lessons from history: Some of the worst industrial accidents from the last two decades

Tianjin, China – Container storage explosion

On August 12, 2015, a series of explosions killed approximately 173 people and injured hundreds of others at a container storage station in the city’s port.

Responders to initial reports of a fire at the site were not able to bring the blaze under control because, unknown to the firefighters, vast amounts of sodium cyanide and other chemicals which react with water were being stored at the site. 

There were two initial explosions within 30 seconds of each other at the facility, the second of which was far larger because it was the result of 800 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploding.

Fires at the site, which released tonnes of harmful substances into the air, were left uncontrolled due to the sheer scale of the explosion.

Of the 173 fatalities, 104 were firefighters.

On August 12, 2015, a series of explosions killed approximately 173 people and injured hundreds of others at a container storage station in the city's port

On August 12, 2015, a series of explosions killed approximately 173 people and injured hundreds of others at a container storage station in the city’s port

 

 

Gazipur, Bangladesh – A boiler explosion

During a restart of equipment on July 3, 2017, following a 10-day shutdown for Eid, Multifabs Limited confirmed that there garments factory boiler exploded, collapsing a section of its multi-story factory in the district of Gazipur on the outskirts of Dhaka.

Worringly, the company was quoted as saying some 50 people were inside the building while the six-year-old boiler was having maintenance work done to it.

Over the next 24 hours, rescuers found seven bodies in rubble, and three other victims died in hospital. The death toll would remained at 10.

‘I heard a big bang when I was having tea outside,’ factory driver Hafiz Mostafa said, as dozens thronged the factory site and firefighters moved rubble in search of missing persons. ‘I saw windows, doors, glasses, machinery and a section of the wall of the building go flying.’ 

‘The boiler was running well,’ Mahiuddin Faruqui, Multifab’s chairman told Reuters at the time. ‘After servicing when workers were trying to restart it, it went off.’ 

 

Cyprus navy base – Munitions dump blast

In one of the worst defence industry disasters this century, 13 people, including the head of the Cypriot navy, a navy base commander and six firefighters were killed by a blast at a munitions dump which knocked out the island’s biggest power station.

Firefighters were called to the Evangelos Florakis navy base on the south coast of the island on 11 July, 2011, to tackle a blaze at the dump, which burned for about an hour before causing the explosion.

The blast almost levelled the nearby Vassilikos power plant, which produces nearly 60 percent of the island’s energy, damaged buildings in nearby villages and rained metal on a motorway. All the victims were Cypriots.

The country’s defense minister and army chief quit hours after the explosion at the dump, which held confiscated Iranian armaments. A government spokesman ruled out sabotage.

The blast wounded 62 people, shredded the outer walls of two multi-storey buildings and shook olive groves and farming villages for miles around the base.

‘My tractor jumped about half a meter in the air,’ said farmer Nicos Aspros, who was tilling his field at the time of the blast. ‘There isn’t a house in the community which hasn’t been damaged.’ 

Firefighters were called to the Evangelos Florakis navy base on the south coast of the island on 11 July, 2011, to tackle a blaze at the dump, which burned for about an hour before causing the explosion

Firefighters were called to the Evangelos Florakis navy base on the south coast of the island on 11 July, 2011, to tackle a blaze at the dump, which burned for about an hour before causing the explosion

 

Lagos, Nigeria – Armoury explosion

The armoury explosion was the result of an accidental detonation of a large stock of military high explosives at a storage facility in the Nigerian capital on 27 January 2002.

The fires created by the debris from this explosion burnt down a large section of Northern Lagos, and created a panic that spread to other areas.

Also thrown up by the blast were thousands of as yet unexploded military munitions, which fell in a rain of exploding shells, grenades and bullets casting further destruction across most of the northern section of the city.

As people fled the flames, many stumbled into a concealed Ejigbo canal and drowned. 

The explosion and its aftermath are believed to have killed at least 1,100 people and displaced over 20,000, with many thousands injured or homeless.

The government of Nigeria launched an enquiry, which blamed the for failing to properly maintain the base, or to decommission it when instructed to do so in 2001.

 

Enschede, Netherlands – Fireworks disaster

The city of Enschede was built up around the SE Fireworks depot, the only one in the Netherlands to be located in a residential area.

On 13 May, 2000, firefighters were tackling a small fire at the warehouse when the explosion ripped through the building sending debris and fireworks into the air.

Unaware of the oncoming disaster, locals had been watching the firefighters tackle the blaze – and at least one was filming the fire – when the factory exploded.

The first explosion had a strength of 800kg TNT equivalence. However the majority of the damage was caused by the last explosion which had a strength within the range of 4000–5000kg TNT equivalent.

A total of 400 homes were destroyed and 1500 buildings damaged. The blasts killed 23 people including four firefighters, and injured nearly 1,000 people. 

One week prior to the explosion, SE had been audited. The company was judged to have met all official safety regulations while the legally imported fireworks had been inspected by Dutch authorities and deemed safe.

 Dutch firefighters continued to work in harsh conditions, and with the help of German firefighters from a town a short distance over the border, the blaze was put out by the end of the day. 

On 13 May, 2000, firefighters were tackling a small fire at the warehouse when the explosion ripped through the building sending debris and fireworks into the air

On 13 May, 2000, firefighters were tackling a small fire at the warehouse when the explosion ripped through the building sending debris and fireworks into the air

 

SpaceX completes first successful ‘hop’ test flight of its Starship rocket 500-feet above Texas

Elon Musk’s SpaceX took one small ‘hop’ closer towards the surface of Mars on Tuesday after completing the first successful launch and landing of its Starship rocket.

Dubbed the SN5, the potentially revolutionary prototype performed an almost 500-foot leap above SpaceX’s development facility in Boco Chica, Texas, at 5pm local time.

The nine-story large metallic cylinder ignited its single Raptor engine and slowly rose into the air before gently returning to the ground and landing upright a short distance away from where launched.

‘Mars is looking real,’ Musk tweeted in response to the launch Tuesday evening, later adding that ‘Progress is accelerating’.

Scroll down for video 

The SN5 prototype, the first full scale model of its kind, performed an almost 500-foot leap above SpaceX’s development facility in Boco Chica, Texas, at 5pm local time

The nine-story large metallic cylinder ignited its single Raptor engine and slowly rose into the air before gently returning to the ground

The nine-story large metallic cylinder ignited its single Raptor engine and slowly rose into the air before gently returning to the ground

For a moment after the engine first ignited, it looked as if the prototype was struggling to get airborne, but then it suddenly rose above its own smoke, hovered and came in for a soft landing.

‘And when the smoke cleared, she stood there majestically, after the 150 meter flight!’ tweeted NASA’s top scientist, Thomas Zurbuchen.

The SN5 traveled a minute fraction of the more than 35 million miles Musk hopes the final Starship will traverse to take humans to Mars.

The current prototype, resembling a giant metal thermos, doesn’t have all the features of a traditional rocket as it has no nose cone, flaps or other structural features designed to guide it through the upper atmosphere.

The Starship envisioned by Musk will be 120 meters tall and will be able to land vertically on Mars, the CEO had pledged.

Musk later tweeted that in its next phase, the SN5’s landing legs will be ‘60% longer’ and ‘will be much wide and taller … but capable of of landing on unimproved surfaces & auto-leveling.’

The 500 feet it traveled is the furthest one of these prototypes has come in the testing process so far. Several previous prototypes exploded during ground tests, in a learning process of trial and error.

Each failure has taught SpaceX valuable lessons to inform design and material changes, Musk said, adding that such changes are already being worked into SN6, SN7, and SN8 prototypes, which are currently in various stages of assembly within the Boca Chica site.

For a moment after the engine first ignited, it looked as if the prototype was struggling to get airborne, but then it suddenly rose above its own smoke, hovered and came in for a soft landing

For a moment after the engine first ignited, it looked as if the prototype was struggling to get airborne, but then it suddenly rose above its own smoke, hovered and came in for a soft landing

The SN5 landed upright a short distance away from where it took off

The SN5 landed upright a short distance away from where it took off

An earlier ‘hop’ launch for the Starship was aborted on Tuesday moments before the successful launch.

SN5 completed seven key tests that led up to ‘liftoff,’ but following the 11:24 ET siren point, it began smoking. 

Plumes of liquid oxygen reaching nearly 100 feet in the air began flowing from the craft, which are said to be a result of an emergency detanking.

The team began a flare purge about 10 minutes later to release the pressure and eliminate the plume. 

The initial launch was originally scheduled yesterday but the test was scrapped on that occasion because the turbopump spin start valve wouldn’t open in its giant Raptor engine.  

The massive rocket is SpaceX’s planned next-generation fully reusable launch vehicle, the center Musk’s ambitions to make human space travel affordable.

Musk previously said the lifetime of each Starship will be around 20 to 30 years, ‘like an aircraft’.

Around three Starship flights will launch from Earth per day, or around 1,000 flights a year, and each will have a capacity of more than 90,000 pounds.

By continuously ferrying people the 180 million miles to Mars, Musk is predicting 1,000 human inhabitants by 2030 and ‘maybe around’ one million by 2050.

However, if SpaceX’s track record continues down the same path, the billionaire may never get the change to colonize Mars.

An earlier ‘hop’ launch for the Starship was aborted on Tuesday. The Starship completed a serious of tests leading up to liftoff, but the mission was scrubbed minutes following the siren stage.

An earlier ‘hop’ launch for the Starship was aborted on Tuesday. The Starship completed a serious of tests leading up to liftoff, but the mission was scrubbed minutes following the siren stage. 

In May, the prototype Serial Number 4 vanished into a fireball at SpaceX’s site in Texas shortly the engine was ignited for a pressurized test.

The SN4 had passed several important milestones during development, including a pressurization test that had foiled previous models.

The first rocket was tested in 2019, Mk1 prototype, but was engulfed in flames during a cryogenic pressure test.

The second rocket, dubbed Serial Number 1 (SN1), fell victim to another pressure test when it failed to contain its liquid nitrogen.

However, this time the stainless steel cylinder flew off the stand and came down crashing.

And the third time SpaceX saw its third catastrophic failure was in April – again the Starship prototype imploded during the cryogenic pressure test.

The news follows a number of failed Starship tests, as Musk has watched four of the Mars bound rockets burst into flames at the launch site. The prototype Serial Number 4 vanished into a fireball in May (pictured) shortly the engine was ignited for a pressurized test

The news follows a number of failed Starship tests, as Musk has watched four of the Mars bound rockets burst into flames at the launch site. The prototype Serial Number 4 vanished into a fireball in May (pictured) shortly the engine was ignited for a pressurized test

The second rocket, dubbed Serial Number 1 (SN1), fell victim to another pressure test when it failed to contain its liquid nitrogen. The top went flying off the rocket that was left mangled on the test pad

 The second rocket, dubbed Serial Number 1 (SN1), fell victim to another pressure test when it failed to contain its liquid nitrogen. The top went flying off the rocket that was left mangled on the test pad 

This was the fourth Starship rocket that has been lost while testing - all of the the previous vessels also imploded during testing. It began smoking shortly after the test began

This was the fourth Starship rocket that has been lost while testing – all of the the previous vessels also imploded during testing. It began smoking shortly after the test began

Musk said after the flight of SN5 that the next phase of testing won’t involve flying prototypes very high, at least initially.

‘We’ll do several short hops to smooth out launch process, then go high altitude with body flaps,’ he said Tuesday.

It’s been a successful year for the Elon Musk-owned space firm.

Among its achievements are the fact it launched and returned the first astronauts for the International Space Station from US soil in nearly a decade.

SpaceX is also due to launch its Starlink internet broadband service to customers later this year after putting nearly 600 satellites into orbit.

It is also one of three companies in the running to build a lunar Human Landing system for NASA alongside Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin and Dynetics.

SPACEX STARSHIP: ELON MUSK PLANS TO SEND THE GIANT ‘CREWED’ SPACESHIP TO MARS AND BACK 

The BFR (Big F***ing Rocket), now known as Starship, has been designed as a passenger and cargo spaceship that can go to Mars or put satellites into orbit.

Elon Musk, SpaceX Chief Engineer said the rocket would take its first trip to the red planet in 2022, carrying only cargo.

It will be followed by a crewed mission in 2024 and, according to Musk, other SpaceX’s products would be ‘cannibalised’ to pay for it.

The rocket would be partially reusable and capable of flight directly from Earth to Mars.

Once built, Musk believes the rocket could be used for travel on Earth – saying that passengers would be able to get anywhere in under an hour.

It could also be used for ‘hops’ to the Moon and SpaceX is one of three firms shortlisted to build a human lunar lander for NASA. 

Pubs and restaurants had their busiest ‘Monday of the year’

Britain’s pubs and restaurants had ‘the busiest Monday of the year’ as more than 73,000 outlets took up the Government’s half-price Eat Out to Help Out scheme on food and soft drinks.

Spending at eateries was up by a sixth on the same day the week before, as tens of thousands of people went out to enjoy the discount on food and soft drinks which is running from Mondays to Wednesdays throughout August.

Some restaurants in London said they would extend the 50 per cent discount offer through into next month, without the subsidy from Chancellor Rishi Sunak, in the hope of catching more returning workers.

But fears remained that some employers had advised staff not to return to the offices until 2021, and the British Beer and Pub Association warned that more than one-third of pubs cannot break even one month after reopening.

However, among the pubs enjoying a boost was The Owl in Loughton, Essex, which tweeted: ‘Busiest Monday this year so far, excellent scheme and really shown it works. Thanks for the support, Rishi Sunak and team.’

Andrew Macleod, of Emilia’s Crafted Pasta in London, said guest numbers had doubled on last week, while John Molnar, of The Cod’s Scallops in Nottingham, said eat-in sales exceeded takeaway for the first time since March. 

Diners sit outside at restaurants on James Street in Central London yesterday as they take advantage of Eat Out to Help Out

Diners enjoy a meal on James Street in London's Marylebone area yesterday as they make the most of a lunchtime discount

Diners enjoy a meal on James Street in London’s Marylebone area yesterday as they make the most of a lunchtime discount

People enjoy a half-price meal at restaurants on James Street in London's Marylebone yesterday afternoon

People enjoy a half-price meal at restaurants on James Street in London’s Marylebone yesterday afternoon

People queue up to enter a McDonald's restaurant on Queen Street in Cardiff yesterday which is offering the discount

People queue up to enter a McDonald’s restaurant on Queen Street in Cardiff yesterday which is offering the discount

An HM Revenue & Customs spokesman said on its Facebook page: ‘By midnight August 2, 73,089 restaurants have now signed up to the Eat Out To Help Out scheme. Sign up and register your restaurant, pub or café now.’ 

But the British Beer and Pub Association, which represents brewers and pubs, warned this week that more than one-third of pubs in the UK cannot break even one month after reopening.

Q&A: When is Eat Out to Help Out on and do I need a voucher?

When is it available?

It runs every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from August 3 to 31.

What is it?

A 50 per cent discount when you eat in up to a maximum saving of £10 per diner. The business reclaims the value of the saving from government.

What establishments can take part?

Restaurants, cafés, bars or pubs; work and school canteens; food halls.

What are the restrictions?

No discount on alcoholic drinks or service charges.

Do I need a voucher?

No. The discount will be automatically applied by the participating outlet. The saving can be used alongside other offers and discounts.

How do I find participating outlets?

Treasury has set up a postcode finder that will list outlets offering a scheme within a two mile radius – here

What about chain restaurants?

Ninety businesses have registered to take part in the scheme, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC; burger chains such as GBK, Five Guys, Honest Burgers; coffee shops such as Costa, Starbucks, Pret a Manger, Caffe Nero; pub chains such as Wetherspoon, Fullers, Greene King, Mitchells & Butlers; restaurant chains such as Wagamama, Pizza Hut, Pizza Express, TGI Fridays, Côte Brasserie, Franco Manca.

 

The finding, from a survey of the group’s members, came exactly a month after pubs in England reopened on July 4 after lockdown.

About a quarter of pubs also said they didn’t feel their business was sustainable beyond the end of March 2021 under present conditions, despite the launch of Mr Sunak’s scheme on Monday.

When lockdown measures were announced on March 23, most retailers were forced to close unless they sold essential goods such as food. 

The national shutdown prompted many stuck indoors to turn to online shopping, with internet retailers such as Amazon reporting a boom in sales. 

The launch on Monday triggered a rush for some of London’s best-known eateries, although the area around Covent Garden was still largely devoid of its usual hordes of office workers, tourists and theatre-goers.

But the steep discounts whetted the appetite of the area’s remaining regulars at a nearby branch of By Chloe, a vegan restaurant chain. Its sales increased by 20 per cent on the first day of the scheme compared with a week earlier.

Despite the signs of the initial success of the scheme, the lure of cheap lunches and dinners will not be a silver bullet for the country’s struggling hospitality industry.

Many people in Britain remain worried about the risk of infection in shared spaces, hampering efforts by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government to get the economy going again and to get workers back in their offices.

‘Coming to London feels like you’ve walked into a scene from 28 Days Later,’ Stephen Entwhistle said, referring to the 2002 post-apocalyptic horror film as he waited in By Chloe for his lunch.

The 35-year-old advertising worker said the scheme gave him a chance to lend a hand to Britain’s economy. ‘I will probably go out a lot more now, rather than trying to decide what to cook every day,’ Mr Entwhistle said.

Data from booking firm Opentable showed a 10 per cent jump in the number of diners at reopened restaurants in Britain on Monday compared with the same day in 2019, the first rise since March.

At the start of last week, the number of diners had been down more than 40 per cent.

Mr Sunak announced the scheme last month as part of a latest wave of emergency measures to shore up the economy which contracted by a quarter in the March-April period. 

The £500million scheme offers 50 per cent off the bill for eat-in food and drink – up to £10 per person and excluding alcohol – on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.

Restaurants on James Street in London were busy with lunchtime eaters taking advantage of the discount yesterday

Restaurants on James Street in London were busy with lunchtime eaters taking advantage of the discount yesterday

Restaurants in James Street, W1 swell with lunchtime eaters taking advantage of the Eat out to help out government scheme.

Restaurants in James Street, W1 swell with lunchtime eaters taking advantage of the Eat out to help out government scheme.

Diners enjoy a half-price meal at a restaurant on James Street in London's Marylebone yesterday afternoon

Diners enjoy a half-price meal at a restaurant on James Street in London’s Marylebone yesterday afternoon

Diners go out for a ramen lunch on James Street in London yesterday as they enjoy the Eat Out to Help Out discount

Diners go out for a ramen lunch on James Street in London yesterday as they enjoy the Eat Out to Help Out discount

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, pictured at a Wagamama branch on July 8, has launched the scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, pictured at a Wagamama branch on July 8, has launched the scheme

The Government hopes the unprecedented subsidy, along with cuts to value-added tax for the hospitality sector, will help to reduce job losses at restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs which employ 1.8 million people.

How you could get a further £5 off your meal out with an Amex card

American Express is giving customers £5 cashback for spending £10 or more in small shops, which can can be used in conjunction with the Government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme.

It means you could buy a meal costing £20, get £10 off at the restaurant through the Government discount, then a further £5 cashback via Amex – meaning you pay just £5 for the meal.

A couple using two different Amex cards could split the bill, so they could both get £5 cashback as long as they each spend at least £10 on their card. 

Under the scheme, you can qualify for the £5 cashback up to ten times – meaning up to £50 is available to each customer. You can use the offer only once at each retailer. The cashback is being funded by Amex, not the store.

Amex has signed up thousands of small businesses across the UK for the deal, including family-run butchers, clothes shops and hair salons in addition to pubs and restaurants. It says it wants to help small firms struggling to survive the pandemic. 

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, an industry group, welcomed the support but said around a third of Britain’s bars and restaurants are at risk of permanent closure.

‘At the moment it’s taking a little while to unwind,’ she said. The Government’s emergency support, which also includes a massive job retention programme and rules preventing eviction by landlords until September, was helping to slow job losses.

‘But they will start to come through,’ Ms Nichols said.

She said she was pressing Mr Sunak for more support in his autumn budget, including measures to help bring down the burden of rents and debt taken on during the crisis.

Scot Turner, vice president of operations at QOOT Co., which runs the By Chloe vegan food chain, said his firm would extend the 50 per cent discount offer through September, without the government subsidy, in the hope of catching more returning workers.

But he added it was extremely worrying that some employers had advised staff not to return to the offices until 2021.

‘My fear, in central London, is whether there’s enough being done to drag people back into town,’ he said.

The degree of caution that consumers feel is also a big unanswered question for the Bank of England which will announce its latest outlook for the economy tomorrow.

The uncertainties underscore the scale of the challenge ahead even for restaurants that have been swamped with booking requests such as the Hawksmoor chain of steakhouses, which is offering an extra £10 off between Monday and Wednesday in August, on top of the government’s subsidy.

When it announced 5,500 seats on its website with its Eat Out to Help Out offer, they were all gone within six hours.

‘So far, the re-openings have gone better than we hoped,’ said Huw Gott, one of Hawksmoor’s founders, above the growing hubbub from a dining room. ‘But who knows what September and October will bring?’ 

Which chains and restaurant groups are registered for the Eat Out To Help Out scheme?

Atalian Servest

Atlas Hotels

Bakers + Baristas

Bannatyne Health Club

Bar + Grills

Bill’s

Black Sheep Coffee

Blue Diamond

Boparan Restaurant Group

Brains

Brewdog

Burger King

Buzz Bingo

CH&CO

Caffè Nero

Center Parcs

Coffee#1

Company of Cooks

The Cornish Bakery

Costa Coffee

Crussh

Côte Brasserie

D&D London

David Lloyd Clubs

Deep Blue Fish & Chips

Dobbies Garden Centres

Euro Garages

Everyman

Five Guys

Franco Manca 

Fullers

G1

GAIL’s Bakeries

Giggling Squid

Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Greene King

Grosvenor Casinos

Hall & Woodhouse

Haven

Hollywood Bowl

Honest Burgers

Hydes

JD Wetherspoon

JW Lees

Joe & The Juice

Joseph Holt 

Jurys Inn

KFC

Kew Green Hotels

Leon Restaurants

MacDonald Hotels

Marston’s

McDonald’s 

McMullen

Mecca

Mitchells & Butlers

Morrisons – Cafe and Barista Bar

New World Trading Company

Park Holidays

Patisserie Valerie 

Pho 

Pizza Express 

Pizza Hut

Pret A Manger 

Prezzo

Punch

Revolution Bars Group

Raj Douth

Raj Gate

Roadchef

Selfridges & Co

Shepherd Neame Ltd

Spice Garden

St Austell Brewery

Starbucks

TGI Fridays

Team Sport

Tenpin

The Ivy Collection

The National Trust

Tony Macaroni

Tortilla

Turtle Bay

Vacherin

Village Hotels

Viva Italia

Wagamama

Wasabi

Wildwood

YO Sushi

Youngs

Kindergarten Cop is CANCELED and compared to Birth Of A Nation

Kindergarten Cop is CANCELED: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1990 comedy is pulled from film festival for ‘romanticizing over-policing children’ and is compared to Birth Of A Nation

  • Kindergarten Cop was pulled from drive-in festival in Portland this week
  • Critics denounced it as ‘celebrating the school-to-prison pipeline’
  • Compared the 1990 comedy to the explicitly racist 1915 film Birth Of A Nation
  • In place of Kindergarten Cop, a film celebrating late Rep. John Lewis will air

The comedy film Kindergarten Cop has been pulled from a film festival after protesters claimed it glorifies police traumatizing children and compared it to the explicitly racist 1915 silent movie Birth Of A Nation. 

Organizers of the NW Film Center in Portland, Oregon announced this week that the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy would be pulled from the lineup and replaced with a documentary celebrating the late Rep. John Lewis.

Kindergarten Cop, which was filmed in Astoria, Oregon, had originally been selected for the festival for its importance to the state’s history in film making, and to honor its 30th anniversary, according to Willamette Week.

However, anti-police critics led by local author Lois Leveen said the PG-13 movie promoted a ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ and ‘romanticizes over-policing’. 

The 1990 comedy film Kindergarten Cop (above) has been pulled from a film festival after protesters claimed it glorifies police traumatizing children

The 1990 comedy film Kindergarten Cop (above) has been pulled from a film festival after protesters claimed it glorifies police traumatizing children

‘Yes, KINDERGARTEN COP is only a movie. So are BIRTH OF A NATION and GONE WITH THE WIND, but we recognize films like those are not “good family fun,”‘ Leveen said in a tweet.

‘They are relics of how pop culture feeds racist assumptions,’ the author added.

‘There’s nothing entertaining about the presence of police in schools, which feeds the “school-to-prison” pipeline in which African American, Latinx, and other kids of color are criminalized rather than educated,’ Leveen said in another tweet.

Kindergarten Cop portrays a police officer, portrayed by Schwarzenegger, going undercover as a kindergarten teacher in order to catch a drug dealer who is targeting his own ex-wife and son.

The main character, who has no teaching experience, is shown struggling with classroom management before finding a passion for education and considering changing his career entirely.

Protesters compared Kindergarten Cop to the explicitly racist silent film Birth Of A Nation (above) which glorified the Ku Klux Klan and portrayed most black characters with blackface

Protesters compared Kindergarten Cop to the explicitly racist silent film Birth Of A Nation (above) which glorified the Ku Klux Klan and portrayed most black characters with blackface

The film had been slated to kick off Portland’s Northwest Film Center’s Cinema Unbound Drive-in Theater on August 6.

It has been replaced by a second showing of John Lewis: Good Trouble, a documentary about the recently deceased congressman and civil rights leader. 

Other films slated to run at the festival include Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Xanadu, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, and The Shining.

In recent months, protests have led to the cancellation of several police-themed television shows, including the long-running Cops and wildly popular Live PD.

Ten-page licence fee documents for over-75s are too ‘long and complex’, charity warns BBC 

Ten-page licence fee documents for over-75s are too ‘long and complex’, charity warns BBC

  • Older viewers are likely to start receiving the ten-page letters from today 
  • Age UK said letter do not make it clear when the elderly will be demanded to pay
  • Age UK criticised the switch as ‘complex’ and said the letters were ‘quite long’ 

A charity has criticised the BBC for sending out ‘long and complex’ letters to the over-75s about its new TV licence scheme.

Age UK said the documents fail to make it clear when the elderly will get a demand for payment after millions lost their right to a free licence.

Older viewers are likely to start receiving the ten-page letters from today outlining how the benefit will now only go to those on pension credit.

But the charity warned the letters confirmed its view that the controversial change would ‘in all likelihood end in tears’.

Age UK said the documents fail to make it clear when the elderly (stock photo) will get a demand for payment after millions lost their right to a free licence

It came into force on August 1 but the broadcaster has only just sent out the first letters telling the elderly what to do.

They will tell pensioners that if the BBC has not heard from them within two months, their licence will be cancelled automatically. Bosses intended to launch the scheme in June but delayed it because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Age UK criticised the switch as ‘complex’ and described the ‘bundle of papers’ explaining it as ‘quite long’. It warned that those with dementia would face particular problems. Charity director Caroline Abrahams said: ‘The BBC can’t be criticised for not giving older people much information about their new TV licence scheme but the problem is their plan is complex and the bundle of papers explaining it quite long.

‘It’s likely that some older people will get lost in the detail and wonder what they are supposed to do. The over-75 population is hugely diverse so while some will no doubt navigate the documentation with ease, others may find this impossibly hard.

‘If they have families or friends to help, that will make a big difference but there are many older people on their own who cannot rely on support.

‘The BBC’s pack omits the one piece of information many older people will most want to see: When they are likely to receive a letter asking them to pay. In the absence of this, some will be concerned that they have somehow missed their letter and are liable to be found at fault.’ She said others will be ‘adamant’ they are not going to pay for a licence ‘come what may’.

The BBC says it has 800 additional staff to deal with queries from the over-75s and has dealt with more than 300,000 calls on the issue since March.

A spokesman said: ‘Over-75s will start to receive letters about how to set up their new TV licence from today.

‘No one needs to do anything until they have the letter, whether that’s paying or applying for a free licence, and no one needs to leave their home. We are also working with hundreds of money advice and community organisations to reach older people.’

The BBC said 450,000 older viewers have applied for a free licence and those who have to pay can choose instalments.