World leaders to jointly raise aid for Lebanon

Beirut, Aug. 4, 2020 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Aug. 4, 2020 shows a scene after the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. Two huge explosions rocked Lebanese capital Beirut on Tuesday, leaving at least 50 people killed and 2,500 others injured. The number of casualties were expected to rise as the counting continued. (Xinhua/Bilal Jawich/IANS) by .
Satellite images show scale of destruction after Beirut explosions. by .
Satellite images show the scale of destruction after Beirut explosions.

International leaders will hold talks on Sunday to raise aid for Beirut, five days after the massive explosion which devastated the Lebanese capital.

The virtual conference – set up by France and the United Nations – starts at 14.00 Lebanon time (11.00 GMT).

US President Donald Trump has said he plans to join the call.

Officials estimate the blast at the warehouse, which stored 2,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, caused up to $15 billion (£11.5bn) in damage.

The explosion left at least 158 people dead, 5,000 injured and 300,000 homeless.

On Saturday several thousand people took to the streets, with police firing tear gas at stone-throwing protesters and some demonstrators storming government ministries.

In a televised address, Lebanese PM Hassan Diab said he would ask for early elections as a way out of the crisis. The issue will be discussed in the cabinet on Monday.

Lebanon was already mired in a deep economic crisis and struggling to tackle the coronavirus pandemic before the explosion tore through Beirut.

French President Emmanuel Macron visited Beirut on Thursday and announced he wanted to co-ordinate international aid for the country.

An anti-government protest movement erupted last October, fuelled by the financial situation and a collapsing currency.

A statement from France’s presidential palace says Sunday’s conference “will aim to mobilize Lebanon’s main international partners and to organize and coordinate emergency support from the international community”.

Representatives from European Union member states, China, Russia, Egypt, Jordan, and the UK will all take part, with many others invited to attend.

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