At least nine dead in Beirut restaurant gas leak explosion

Questions raised over public safety standards in Lebanon after blast

Police and residents gather outside the burnt restaurant in Beirut, Lebanon. EPA
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At least nine people died and two were injured due to an explosion caused by a gas leak in a Beirut restaurant on Tuesday, Lebanese authorities said.

The explosion happened at the Pizza Secrets restaurant in central Beirut, with the victims dying of suffocation from fumes, the city's fire department said.

Footage posted online showed the restaurant ablaze as firefighters worked to extinguish the fire.

Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said at least nine people had been killed, as he promised a thorough investigation into the incident.

Speaking from the scene, Tourism Minister Walid Nassar described the gas leak as “a tragedy, which brings to the forefront the need to [strengthen] the conditions of public safety”.

All of those who died were employees of the restaurant.

“It's a crime scene, public safety is never taken seriously in this country,” Beirut MP Paula Yacoubian told reporters outside the restaurant.

Politician Ibrahim Mneimneh, who is closely linked to protests against the Lebanese elite that swept the country in 2019 and led to the downfall of the government that year, questioned safety standards at the restaurant.

The accident “shows this place was not in line with public safety standards”, Mr Mneimneh said.

Pizza Secrets is on Bechara El Khoury Street, a busy thoroughfare into the centre of the Lebanese capital, and in the same building as the Ministry of Finance's import division.

Updated: May 01, 2024, 1:37 PM