Russia sends satellite images to Lebanon from day of Beirut port blast

Russia's space agency Roscosmos provides the images after a request from Lebanon's president

The grain silo that was damaged in the Beirut port blast in 2020, photographed at sunset on July 29, 2021.  Reuters
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Russia has sent Lebanon satellite images of Beirut's port before and after a huge explosion rocked it last year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with his Lebanese counterpart in Moscow on Monday.

Russia's space agency Roscosmos said last week it agreed to provide the images after a request from Lebanese President Michel Aoun. The blast was the country's worst peace-time disaster.

The scene of a deadly explosion that hit the port of Beirut, Lebanon. AP

"At the request of the Lebanese government, today we handed over materials prepared by Roscosmos ... satellite images, and we hope they will help in the investigation of the causes of this incident. This issue is now receiving quite serious attention in Lebanon and we hope it can be closed," Mr Lavrov said.

The blast, one of the world's largest non-nuclear explosions, killed more than 215 people, injured thousands and destroyed parts of the Lebanese capital on August 4, 2020. The investigation is continuing.

Mr Lavrov said that he and Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib also discussed the possible participation of Russian companies in rebuilding infrastructure destroyed in the blast.

The investigation into Beirut’s deadly port blast is still going ahead despite numerous legal hurdles and street clashes that left seven people dead in October after Iran-backed Hezbollah and allies demanded the dismissal of the judge leading the investigation claiming bias.

Investigative judge Tarek Bitar said he has evidence implicating some of the most prominent former ministers and sitting MPs in the explosion allegedly caused by the improper storage of thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate for seven years.

Former Prime Minister Hassan Diab, former public works minister Youssef Finianos, Nohad Machnouk, a former interior minister and sitting MP, in addition to former ministers Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zeaiter were summoned by Bitar for interrogation.

The Investigation has been suspended two times due to legal complaints filed by three of the former ministers to replace the judge.

Updated: November 22, 2021, 2:52 PM
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