Health Minister Hamad Hassan told reporters at the end of a Cabinet meeting on Monday that Prime Minister Hassan Diab would head to the presidential palace to “hand over the resignation in the name of all the ministers.”
“The whole government resigned,” Hassan said.
The prime minister would formally announce the resignation of his government, he added.
The Lebanese government on Monday held a cabinet meeting amid mounting pressure to step down over the devastating explosion that killed more than 150 people in Beirut earlier this week.
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Protesters and critics of the government have blamed corruption and poor leadership at the heart of Lebanon’s government for the explosion.
At least nine members of parliament have resigned since the blasts with many more ministers wanting to resign, Reuters reported citing ministerial and political sources.
The cabinet was formed in January with the support of the Iran-backed Hezbollah group and its allies.
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Hours after the first protests rocked Beirut over the weekend, Prime Minister Hassan Diab vowed to hold early parliamentary elections as his embattled government faces calls to resign.
Diab said he would stay in government for another two months until major parties can reach an agreement.
About 20 people have been detained over the explosion, including the head of Lebanon’s customs department and his predecessor, and the chief of the port. Dozens more have been questioned, including two former Cabinet ministers, according to government officials.
Investigations into the blasts is focusing on how 2,750 tons of the extremely explosive ammonium nitrate chemical came to be stored at a warehouse in Beirut’s port for six years.
Two immense blasts shook Beirut and the surrounding areas of the Lebanese capital, prompting panic as residents rushed to safety. “I have never in my life seen a disaster this big,” Beirut’s governor told local TV.
The explosions, centered in Beirut’s port region, were felt throughout the capital. Even residents in the city’s outskirts reported hearing the blast, with some saying their windows were shattered.
Lebanon’s Health Ministry said at least 100 people were killed and more than 4,000 others were injured.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab said that a large stockpile of 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate in a warehouse at the port had caused the second, larger explosion. “It is unacceptable that a shipment of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate has been present for six years in a warehouse, without taking preventive measures,” Diab said.
More than 30 Red Cross teams raced to the scene, with many locals lending a hand to aid rescue efforts. Hospitals warned that they were quickly filled beyond capacity — and called for blood donations as well as generators to help keep the electricity on.
The blasts struck with the force of a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, according to Germany’s geosciences center GFZ. Residents in Cyprus, some 110 miles (180 km) across the sea from Beirut, reported hearing and feeling the blast.
DW’s Bassel Aridi said people were using social media to try to track down their loved ones after the explosions. Aridi also visited a hospital in Beirut after the blasts. “What I saw in the hospital was so dramatic. All the hospitals have announced that they are totally overloaded.”
Lebanese authorities fear many more people are buried beneath rubble. President Michel Aoun scheduled an emergency Cabinet meeting for Wednesday and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared.
The devastating blasts come as Lebanon experiences severe economic turbulence, with many people taking to the streets in recent months to protest the financial situation. Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared that Wednesday would be a national day of mourning for the victims of the explosion.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets four days after the explosion, blaming the blast on government corruption and mismanagement boiling. Protesters demanded government resignations and fresh elections, with many occupying government ministries. Police responded with tear gas.
Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad became the first government minister to resign in the wake of the blast, five days after it took place. “After the enormous Beirut catastrophe, I announce my resignation from government,” she said in a statement carried by local media. She apologized to the people of Beirut for failing them.
Protesters clashed with riot police in Beirut and tried to break into a cordoned-off area at the parliament square on Sunday amid widespread anger over the massive explosion that killed at least 158 people earlier this week.
A fire broke out at the entrance to the square near the parliament building, according to footage shown by Lebanese television. Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.
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shs,mvb/rc (AFP, Reuters, dpa)