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Number of arrested over Beirut explosion increases to 19

BEIRUT, August 7. /TASS/. Lebanese law enforcement agencies have detained and placed under arrest 19 people over the explosion in the port district of Beirut, the Lebanese LBCI TV channel reported on Friday citing a source in law enforcement. It also reported that an investigation has been launched of former director general of Lebanese customs Shafik Merhi.

Earlier there were reports of the detention of 16 officials of the Beirut seaport administration where a massive explosion occurred on August 4.

On the same day Lebanese authorities made a decision to place under house arrest the entire administration of the seaport until the responsibility of particular officials for the explosion is ascertained. As Lebanon’s prime minister Hassan Diab said, all parties responsible for this tragedy will be justly punished.

A powerful blast rocked the Beirut seaport district on August 4, sending a shockwave that ripped through residential areas of the Lebanese capital. The shockwave destroyed and damaged dozens of buildings and cars, leaving over 300,000 people homeless. At least 154 people were killed as a result, about 5,000 were affected, dozens are missing. According to local law enforcement, the blast was caused by the detonation in a warehouse during welding of over 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, confiscated by the customs services over six years ago.