A fuel tank explosion in Lebanon killed 28 people and injured 80 on Sunday as a crowd clamoured for petrol, authorities and medics said, the latest catastrophe to spark outrage in the crisis-hit country.
The tragedy in the impoverished north overwhelmed medical facilities and heaped new misery on a nation already beset by an economic crisis and severe fuel shortages that have crippled hospitals and caused long power cuts.
It also revived bitter memories of a massive blast at Beirut port last August that killed more than 200 people and destroyed swathes of the capital.
The health ministry said the explosion in Al-Tleil village in the Akkar region killed 28 people and wounded 80. Caretaker premier Hassan Diab’s office declared a national day of mourning for Monday.
Anger boiled over as protesters attacked the Beirut home of premier-designate Najib Mikati to demand his resignation, with rocks thrown and clashes with anti-riot forces, the official National News Agency (NNA) reported. The military said a fuel tank that “had been confiscated by the army to distribute to citizens” exploded just before 2:00 am (2300 GMT) on Sunday.
Two soldiers died, 11 were critically injured and four are missing, it added.
She said some witnesses said a lighter sparked the blast; others claimed shots were fired.
The explosion was widely seen as a direct consequence of official negligence that had pushed the country deeper into free fall. The dead are victims of a careless state,” Marwa told AFP.
Sawsan Abdullah burst into tears at Geitawi hospital when a doctor told her that her soldier son was in critical condition. He’s my only son!” Abdullah yelled, falling to the floor.
Lebanon, hit by a financial crisis, has been grappling with soaring poverty, a plummeting currency and dire fuel shortages. The central bank this week said it could not afford to fund fuel subsidies because of dwindling foreign reserves, and accused importers of hoarding fuel to sell at higher prices on the black market or in Syria.
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