Lebanon to investigate ‘external interference’ in Beirut port blast

Lebanon’s president has asked investigation authorities to look into the ‘external interference’ that may have triggered Beirut blast on Tuesday.

“The cause has not been determined yet. There is a possibility of external interference through a rocket or bomb or other act,” President Michel Aoun said.

Aoun, who had previously said explosive material was stored unsafely for years at the port, said the investigation would also weigh if the blast was due to negligence or an accident. Twenty people had been detained so far.

Meanwhile, rescuers were still looking to find survivors under the rubble. At least 154 people have died and over 5,000 injured.

The United States said it did not rule out an attack, Israel, which has fought several wars with Lebanon, has denied any role. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said the cause was unclear, but compared the blast to a 2005 bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Lebanon’s powerful Shi’ite group Hezbollah, denied reports of link with Iran-backed groups.

The massive explosion has also triggered a fresh wave of protests. Crowds are angry on the current government over negligence that led to the explosion.

The blast left a trail of destruction in all districts of the capital, with homes and businesses reduced to rubble.