At least 20 dead in Lebanon fuel explosion

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At least 20 people are reported to have died when a fuel container truck exploded in the northern Lebanese city of Akar, leaving at least seven more seriously injured, according to the country’s Red Cross.

The emergency aid agency that operates the Rec Cross and the Red Crescent in Lebanon, said the injured and the dead bodied were taken to nearby hospitals.

Although the reasons leading to the explosion are not yet clear, the north of the country is known to be a hot spot for smuggling fuel and goods to war-torn Syria, while fuel shortages have resulted long queues at petrol stations, often resulting on fist fights, shooting and even hijacking of cargoes.

Due to the deteriorating situation in the country that is struggling to appoint a national unity government, due mainly to conflicts between the seven main factions and the pro-Iran Hezbollah that aim for control of the executive, inflation has send the economy into freefall, resulting in bank runs, a worthless Lebanese pound and the US dollar becoming the hard currency of choice.

Weak transitional administrations have failed to reign control, with French President Emanuel Macron and international aid agencies withdrawing all financial support in the absence of willingness for reforms, cutting down on excessive government spending and continued political infighting.

After the deadly Beirut blast that decimated the country’s main harbour a year ago, states and world organisations pledged financial aid and other assistance. However, the probe into the explosion has been dragging on with no clear outcome, prompting hundreds of thousands to stage weekly marches that have culminated in recent days.

The economic situation was exacerbated after the closure of the Turkish-owned floating power producer, supplying electricity to locals at a premium, with privately owned neighbourhood generators requiring cash to continue to supply households and businesses with electricity.