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Protests in Belarus, Beirut explosion, Mauritius oil spill

By Yann Tessier | 21 August 2020

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REUTERS/David W Cerny

For the second week running, the Beirut blast has topped coronavirus as the world’s dominant story. With so many dimensions to this life-changing event, our now expanded Beirut team is delivering fast, comprehensive coverage from a temporary office in a hotel business centre. 

Reuters journalists were at the epicentre of the explosion, offices were blown away and windows smash by the reverberating shockwaves.

The toll of the explosion has been enormous. A once thriving metropolis, Beirut was razed to the ground in what has been described as the largest, non-nuclear explosion ever. Resulting in widespread protests against the mismanagement of explosive materials and the rising death count, Beirut navigates an uncertain future.

Meanwhile, in Belarus, tensions rise over the results of the Presidential Election. The country faces ongoing protests as opposition supporters demand the resignation of the newly installed President, Alexander Lukashenko. Russian Leader, Vladimir Putin has been asked to step in to help broker a peaceful resolution.  

Discover the stories that matter this week.

Baby born amid explosion 

Brushing off blood and shattered glass, medical staff instinctively carried mother Emmanuelle into the corridor, fearing another explosion could follow. Shaken to the core, Emmanuelle said she knew she had to focus on giving birth: “he has to come to life and I have to be very strong.” The hospital in which Emmanuelle gave birth was totally decimated by the blast. Needles flew across the hall, blood covered the floors and the lights went off. Seventeen people died inside the hospital. Hundreds then poured in from across the Lebanese capital after the blast, which killed more than 170 people and wounded thousands.

Explosion rips through church

The massive blast that hit Beirut on Tuesday 4th August, was caught on camera during a livestream of a mass. Performed by a priest who ran for safety as debris fell from the ceiling, the church’s stained glass windows smashed and the power cut out as a result of the initial tremor. The blast was the most powerful ever to rip through Beirut, a city still scarred by civil war three decades ago and reeling from an economic meltdown and a surge in coronavirus infections. Sending a mushroom cloud into the sky the blast rattled windows on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, about 100 miles away.

French Army command/Handout via REUTERS

Oil Spill in Mauritius

A Japanese bulk carrier struck a coral reef off the Indian Ocean island nation on July 25, spilling about 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil and triggering a state of “environmental emergency”. Authorities warn it may take decades for tourism and ecological systems to recover. The country’s National Crisis Committee said that rough weather conditions had made the removal of the remaining oil on the ship risky.

“There is still approximately 30 cubic meters of mixed type of oil in the engine room,” it said in the statement. “In view of the rough sea condition, the salvage company…has informed that it cannot carry on with the pumping of the remaining oil.”

REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

Tensions rise in Belarus

Belarusian law enforcement officers stand guard during a rally of opposition supporters following the presidential election in Minsk. Opposition protestors reject the official results in which incumbent Alexander Lukashenko was given a landslide re-election victory.

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