• Tuesday, Sep 21, 2021
  • Last Update : 11:58 am

Lebanon timeline: One year since Beirut blast

  • Published at 09:03 pm August 3rd, 2021
Lebanon Beirut Explosion
A view of a steel sculpture dubbed ‘The Gesture’ made from debris resulting from the aftermath of the Beirut explosion, hanging from a crane at the site of the blast, in Beirut on 28 July, 2021 Reuters

On August 4, 2020, one of the world's biggest-ever, non-nuclear explosions destroy much of Beirut's port and devastates swathes of the capital

As Lebanon marks a year since the devastating Beirut port blast, here is a timeline of its 12 months of crisis:

Devastation

On August 4, 2020, one of the world's biggest-ever, non-nuclear explosions destroy much of Beirut's port and devastates swathes of the capital.

The blast was caused by a fire in a warehouse which Lebanese authorities admit held a vast stockpile of ammonium nitrate for six years. 

The huge explosion leaves more than 200 dead, and injures over 6,500.

The tragedy strikes as Lebanon is mired in its worst economic crisis in decades, with its currency plummeting, massive layoffs and drastic banking restrictions.

'Apocalyptic'

Beirut is in a state of shock, with residents looking for the missing and searching gutted buildings for the injured and for their pets and belongings.

It is an "apocalyptic situation," says Beirut governor Marwan Abboud the next day. International aid begins to arrive.

Macron weighs in

On August 6, French President Emmanuel Macron visits Beirut and walks through the devastated Gemmayzeh neighbourhood.

His visit is praised by many Lebanese angry at their own leaders, whom they accuse of corruption and incompetence.

Macron calls for "deep changes" that the Lebanese population has been demanding for months.

The next day, President Michel Aoun rejects any international probe into the disaster.

International aid

On August 8, thousands demonstrate, angry at their leaders over the explosion. Clashes with security forces erupt.

The next day, the international community pledges around $300 million in emergency aid.

It promises to stand by Lebanon but demands the aid be directly distributed to the population, and a transparent probe into the blast be carried out.

PM resigns 

On August 10, prime minister Hassan Diab announces his government's resignation.

Demonstrators again take to the streets of Beirut and clash with security forces. 

At the end of the month, diplomat Mustapha Adib is named as Lebanon's new premier. 

Macron lands in Beirut hours later, extracting a promise from all political sides to help Adib form an independent crisis government.

On September 26, after weeks of deadlock, Adib bows out.

Macron says he is "ashamed" of Lebanese leaders, who he claims have "betrayed" their people.

Hariri back

On October 22, three-time prime minister Saad Hariri is nominated again, promising a government of experts to stop the economic collapse.

Diab continues as caretaker PM while Hariri tries to form an administration.

On December 2, at a second aid conference, Macron urges Lebanese politicians to form a government.

Two days later, international donors lay out a $2.5-billion blast response plan over 18 months, but urge "credible progress on reforms."

Diab charged

On December 10, the lead investigator into the explosion charges Diab and three ex-ministers with negligence.

But a week later, the probe is suspended, and a court removes the lead investigator in February.

In June, rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch call for a UN investigation into the blast in light of the stalled domestic probe.

'Immunity'

In early July, the new judge investigating the blast says he has summoned Diab and taken steps towards indicting former ministers and security officials.

Parliament says it needs more evidence before it waives immunity for three former ministers who are also lawmakers, a position that the lead investigator rejects.

On July 15, Hariri steps down, saying he is unable to form a government.

Later in the month, former premier Najib Mikati becomes Lebanon's third prime minister-designate since the blast.

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