Minister quits as violent protests grip Beirut after blast

A Lebanese government minister has quit following the devastating explosion in Beirut that killed more than 150 people, as violent protests gripped the city for a second straight day. As protesters called for a sustained uprising to topple the country's leaders, information minister Manal Abdel-Samad said she was resigning "given the magnitude of the catastrophe" and "in response to the public will for change". Moment of explosion in Beirut Another minister - a close adviser to Prime Minister Hassan Diab - is also expected to resign, according to local media. Amid a second straight day of anti-government protests, a fire broke out at an entrance to parliament square in central Beirut as hundreds of demonstrators tried to break into the cordoned-off area, Lebanese TV channels showed. Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds as protesters broke into the housing and transport ministry offices. Advertisement International donors have pledged to send millions in aid to Lebanon following the blast which killed at least 158 people in Beirut, but only if the nation's leaders agree to reforms demanded by protesters. French President Emmanuel Macron said he had received promises worth €253m (£229m). More from Beirut The Lebanese army said on Sunday that hopes of finding more survivors following the blast were fading, with 21 people still missing. It follows a night of violent anti-government protests in Lebanon's capital as anger mounts over the alleged mismanagement and corruption behind the explosion. Beirut's 'hellish descent into chaos' A police officer died and more than 170 people were injured in the demonstrations on Saturday, as protesters tried to break into the parliament building before going on to storm several government ministries. Demonstrators set up gallows and nooses and held mock hanging sessions of cut-out cardboard images of top Lebanese officials, while some held signs that read "resign or hang". The devastating explosion in Beirut on Tuesday killed at least 158 people and injured more than 6,000, while destroying parts of the city. The blast happened after 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate - a chemical used as a fertiliser and in explosives - caught fire after being stored unsafely at a port warehouse for six years, Lebanese President Michel Aoun has said. This is what happened in Beirut Five of the Lebanese parliament's 128 members have announced their resignation since Saturday. But the country's top Catholic cleric said the "whole government" should resign as it cannot "change the way it governs". "The resignation of an MP or a minister is not enough," Christian Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai said. "The whole government should resign as it is unable to help the country recover." Lawyer Maya Habli said: "People should sleep in the streets and demonstrate against the government until it falls." Supermarket quakes from Beirut aftershock In a televised speech on Saturday evening, Mr Diab said the only solution was to hold early elections. He called on all political parties to put aside their disagreements and said he was prepared to stay in the post for two months to allow time for politicians to work on structural reforms. On Sunday, an international conference was co-hosted by Mr Macron and United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres aimed at bringing donors together to supply emergency aid and equipment to Lebanon

Minister quits as violent protests grip Beirut after blast
A Lebanese government minister has quit following the devastating explosion in Beirut that killed more than 150 people, as violent protests gripped the city for a second straight day. As protesters called for a sustained uprising to topple the country's leaders, information minister Manal Abdel-Samad said she was resigning "given the magnitude of the catastrophe" and "in response to the public will for change". Moment of explosion in Beirut Another minister - a close adviser to Prime Minister Hassan Diab - is also expected to resign, according to local media. Amid a second straight day of anti-government protests, a fire broke out at an entrance to parliament square in central Beirut as hundreds of demonstrators tried to break into the cordoned-off area, Lebanese TV channels showed. Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds as protesters broke into the housing and transport ministry offices. Advertisement International donors have pledged to send millions in aid to Lebanon following the blast which killed at least 158 people in Beirut, but only if the nation's leaders agree to reforms demanded by protesters. French President Emmanuel Macron said he had received promises worth €253m (£229m). More from Beirut The Lebanese army said on Sunday that hopes of finding more survivors following the blast were fading, with 21 people still missing. It follows a night of violent anti-government protests in Lebanon's capital as anger mounts over the alleged mismanagement and corruption behind the explosion. Beirut's 'hellish descent into chaos' A police officer died and more than 170 people were injured in the demonstrations on Saturday, as protesters tried to break into the parliament building before going on to storm several government ministries. Demonstrators set up gallows and nooses and held mock hanging sessions of cut-out cardboard images of top Lebanese officials, while some held signs that read "resign or hang". The devastating explosion in Beirut on Tuesday killed at least 158 people and injured more than 6,000, while destroying parts of the city. The blast happened after 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate - a chemical used as a fertiliser and in explosives - caught fire after being stored unsafely at a port warehouse for six years, Lebanese President Michel Aoun has said. This is what happened in Beirut Five of the Lebanese parliament's 128 members have announced their resignation since Saturday. But the country's top Catholic cleric said the "whole government" should resign as it cannot "change the way it governs". "The resignation of an MP or a minister is not enough," Christian Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai said. "The whole government should resign as it is unable to help the country recover." Lawyer Maya Habli said: "People should sleep in the streets and demonstrate against the government until it falls." Supermarket quakes from Beirut aftershock In a televised speech on Saturday evening, Mr Diab said the only solution was to hold early elections. He called on all political parties to put aside their disagreements and said he was prepared to stay in the post for two months to allow time for politicians to work on structural reforms. On Sunday, an international conference was co-hosted by Mr Macron and United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres aimed at bringing donors together to supply emergency aid and equipment to Lebanon. Image: Emmanuel Macron co-hosted an international conference to secure aid for Lebanon "Despite differences in view, everyone must come to the help of Lebanon and its people," Mr Macron said via video-link from his summer retreat on the French Riviera. "Our task today is to act swiftly and efficiently." :: Listen to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker The UK has promised another £20m in aid following the blast and pledged to "stand by the Lebanese people". The rescue package is in addition to £5m already given by the British government. Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump indicated his willingness to offer support, tweeting: "Everyone wants to help!" Let's block ads! (Why?)