Photo Credit: YouTube
Fuel truck explosion kills 20 in Akkar, north Lebanon, Aug. 15, 2021.

At least 20 people were killed and 80 injured—20 critical—when a fuel truck exploded in north Lebanon, the Red Cross reported Sunday morning.

Members of the Red Cross, Civil Defense, and the army are still working to help the people transport the wounded to several hospitals in Akkar, Tripoli, and Beirut, amid a state of great tension, and a distress call to donate blood in the region’s hospitals for the critical burn victims.

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The official National News Agency said that a container of gas the army had confiscated exploded. On Saturday, the Lebanese Army Command announced via Twitter that it has begun raiding gas stations around the country and confiscating the stored gasoline and diesel, ostensibly to help relieve the massive shortages that resulted from the collapsed economy. Army units began to force gas station owners to sell their fuel to customers, after having refused to sell, expecting to make a better profit once government gasoline subsidies were terminated and prices increase.

According to Reuters, the Army was distributing gasoline from a hidden fuel storage tank it had confiscated, and NNA added that the explosion took place following scuffles among an estimated 200 residents who had gathered overnight around the container to fill up. It appears that after the army had left the area Saturday night, there was a huge stampede among the people of the area to fill the remaining gasoline in the tank, and then the explosion occurred.

Yassine Metlej, an employee at an Akkar hospital, told AFP that at least seven corpses and dozens of burn victims had arrived at his facility, adding, “The corpses are so charred that we can’t identify them. Some have lost their faces, others their arms.”

Sunday’s explosion reminded every man, woman, and child in Lebanon of the deadliest explosion in their country’s history on August 4, 2020, which blasted Beirut’s port and killed at least 214, wounded thousands and destroyed whole sections of the capital.

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri tweeted that “the Akkar massacre is not different from the port massacre. If this was a country that respects its people, its officials would resign, from the president to the very last person responsible for this neglect.”

Caretaker Minister of Information Manal Abdul Samad tweeted on Sunday: “A tragedy befell our people in Tallil in Akkar, and the on security forces and the army. It is not possible and it is useless to continue to carry out caretaking duties ‘within a small scale’ in our ministries, and the country is collapsing before us and the people are doomed! I call for the formation of an open crisis cell until the birth of the long-awaited government.”

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.