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Lebanon marks port blast anniversary amid paralysis, no accountability

As the Lebanese observe a day of mourning three years after the massive explosion that killed more than 200 people and destroyed parts of Beirut, the investigation into the blast remains on hold.
A Lebanese man lifts a national flag during a commemoration ceremony for the victims of the Beirut port explosion across from the capital's harbour, on August 11, 2020. (Photo by PATRICK BAZ / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK BAZ/AFP via Getty Images)

BEIRUT — Lebanon on Friday marks the third anniversary of the deadly port explosion that ripped through Beirut on Aug. 4, 2020. Lebanese officials announced a national day of mourning for today, with sit-ins expected in the capital.

More than 200 people died and some 6,000 were wounded in the massive blast, which destroyed a large section of the city, leveling buildings on and near the port and shattering windows and infrastructure across the capital. The explosion stemmed from a fire at a warehouse that ignited nearly 3,000 tons of highly flammable ammonium nitrate that had been improperly stored there since 2014. Experts declared the blast one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history. Ripples from it could be felt in Cyprus, 250 kilometers (155 miles) away.

The explosion came as Lebanon reeled under a devastating economic crisis, which continues to this day. A year earlier, massive nationwide protests had erupted against the entrenched political elite that has ruled the country since the end of the civil war (1975-90). Reports that several officials and politicians had known about the presence of the chemical stockpile at the port fueled even more anger among the Lebanese people.

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