Beirut blast: Lebanon's entire government resigns in the wake of deadly explosion


Lebanon's beleaguered prime minister and the rest of his Cabinet resigned Monday, six days after a catastrophic explosion in Beirut's port leveled large areas of the capital.

The under-fire cabinet, struggling to weather the political storm, was due to meet in the afternoon amid widespread demands for an end to an entrenched political system dominated by sectarian interests and family dynasties.

Worldwide rescue teams with sniffer dogs and specialised equipment remained at work at the disaster's fire-charred "ground zero", where the search was now for bodies and not survivors.

The explosions caused the deaths of at least 220 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless. Multiple ministers had already quit in the aftermath of the disaster.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab is set to address the nation at 7:30pm local time (4:30 GMT), when he is expected to formally announce the government's resignation.

Five of the parliament's 128 members have also announced their resignation since Saturday, including three legislators of the Christian Kataeb party, a member of the Socialist Progressive Party and an independent.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who visited Beirut in the wake of the blast, said the global community should stand for "a credible independent impartial investigation into the causes of the August 4 disaster".

"The scale of the loss is so vast, it is likely every single person in Lebanon has been touched by this event", said Najat Rochdi, the U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon. While, Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti resigned from his post on Monday last week, before Tuesday's explosions.

Clashes broke out on Sunday evening in Beirut between police and protesters who tried to approach the parliament building.

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Hassan also added that Prime Minister Hassan Diab will head to the presidential palace to "hand over the resignation in the name of all the ministers".

"I have discovered that corruption is bigger than the state and that the state is paralyzed by this (ruling) clique and can not confront if or get rid of it", Diab, who was a professor at the American University of Beirut before he took the job.

Demonstrators lamented that security forces were using tear gas against blast victims instead of helping them clean their wrecked homes and find a roof.

On Sunday, world leaders and worldwide organisations pledged almost US$300 million ($418 million) in emergency humanitarian aid to Beirut in the wake of the explosion, but warned that no money for rebuilding the capital would be made available until Lebanese authorities commit themselves to the political and economic reforms demanded by the people.

President Trump joined an global donor call on Sunday hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

"Commitment to these reforms will unlock billions of dollars for the benefit of the Lebanese people", she said.

Lebanese aid groups have warned foreign donors that any financial assistance risked being syphoned away. Economists have forecast the damage could erase up to 25% of the country's economic output.

Of particular concern is the country's supply of grain and wheat, which was largely destroyed in silos housed at the port.