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On Beirut blast anniversary, Christian patriarch condemns govt

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The blast at the port killed at least 220 people

Lebanon’s top Christian cleric on Thursday denounced his country’s government for failing to bring to justice those responsible for the Beirut port blast, marking the huge explosion’s second anniversary with demands for accountability.

Bechara Boutros al-Rai, in a mass commemorating its victims, said that “God condemns those officials” who were stalling investigations that the government “has no right” to block.

The blast at the port, which killed at least 220 people and was recorded as one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, was caused by massive stores of ammonium nitrate kept at the site since 2013.

Two years on, no senior official has been held to account.

A domestic probe into the exact causes of the explosion – and who was responsible for or negligent regarding the ammonium nitrate’s presence – has been stalled for more than six months.

There is still no unified official death toll. Two security sources told Reuters that their counts were at least 220 dead, with at least 20 more people unaccounted for, mostly Syrian nationals.

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