Beirut death

Beirut death toll rises to at least 100 as explosion is blamed on 2,750-ton ammonium nitrate stash – CNBC

Beirut’s residents are in shock and mourning after an enormous explosion at the city’s port ripped through the Lebanese capital, killing at least 135 people, injuring more than 4,000 and displacing some 300,000, according to emergency services. Hospitals are overwhelmed, with some too damaged by the blast to operate.

The explosion, which blew out windows and destroyed property for miles around, has been initially blamed on 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in an unsecured warehouse, without safety measures, since 2014 at Beirut’s cargo port. The New York Times, citing public records, reported that Lebanese officials knew about the risks for several years but did not act on them.

The government subsequently announced an investigation to determine within five days the exact cause of the explosion and “who was responsible.”

“I will not rest until we find the person responsible for what happened, to hold him accountable and impose the most severe penalties,” Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said early Wednesday, adding that it was unacceptable that such a volume of the explosive chemical had been present for six years in a warehouse without any “preventive measures.” It wasn’t immediately clear what ignited the volatile material.

Lebanon’s cabinet said Wednesday that all port officials who oversaw storage and guarding since 2014 will be put under house arrest, to be overseen by the Lebanese army, according to Reuters citing ministerial sources.

A before (L) and after satellite image after a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.

Source: Planet Labs

Ammonium nitrate is commonly used as fertilizer, but is also a component in mining explosives when combined with fuel oil and detonated by an explosive charge. It was used in the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. Only 2 tons were used in that bombing. 

The chemical can also combust when met with an intense fire, which appeared to be burning in a part of the Beirut port before the huge explosion.

‘It’s apocalyptic’

Local media footage and videos uploaded to social media following the blast showed bloodied people walking through debris-strewn streets. Medical staff had to treat patients in parking lots as hospitals exceeded capacity. And countless more victims remain missing — by Wednesday morning, an Instagram page called “LocateVictimsBeirut,” where residents post photos of their missing friends and family, had amassed 63,500 followers.

“I was in the car when we felt the huge blast, the airbags opened,” one Beirut resident told CNBC. “I ran away — it’s apocalyptic. There is no other word to describe it. We’re walking on glass, the entire area of Achrafieh,” he said, describing one of Beirut’s oldest residential quarters, a popular tourist area known for its narrow winding streets, cafes and bars that has essentially been flattened.

“Everyone I saw was bleeding from their head, their arms, everywhere. People shouting in despair. … I’m still in shock.”

Yumna Fawaz, a local journalist, described the population as “shocked.” “We lost our people and our city. My entire apartment is destroyed,” she said. Another witness described “chaos,” and said that many friends were injured, with some still searching for family members.

Beirut’s governor, Marwan Abboud, called the disaster a “national catastrophe,” breaking down into tears as he toured the city.

“There is no word to describe the horror of the catastrophe that occurred in Beirut yesterday,” Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Wednesday, according to the Lebanese News Agency. “I extend my heart and feelings to the families…and I ask God to heal the wounded, heal the broken hearts, and provide us with all the energy and determination to stand together to confront the painful burns that have scarred the face of Beirut.”

Crisis will ‘accelerate’ government collapse

The immediate crisis in homelessness, health, overwhelmed medical services and destroyed property and businesses — on top of an already crippled economy — will only accelerate government collapse, Eurasia Group analysts said in a note Wednesday morning.

“The government’s credibility is declining, and large elements of the public no longer believes the government is able to manage,” the consultancy wrote. “In our view this accelerates movement towards collapse of the current government. The economic crisis will also deepen as the port is the main trade valve and base for many stored goods awaiting clearance.”

Among the facilities destroyed at Beirut’s port was the country’s main grain silo — the blast has left Lebanon with less than a month’s supply of grain reserves.  

Numerous countries have offered to come to Lebanon’s aid, including France, the U.S., the U.K., the UAE, Qatar, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, and more unexpectedly, Israel — with whom Lebanon has no diplomatic relations. 

French President tweeted that he will be traveling to Beirut on Thursday to offer a message of “fraternity and solidarity” from his country.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed his condolences to Prime Minister Diab on Wednesday, offering assistance with the aftermath, according to NBC News.

But any recovery for Lebanon now will be “massively difficult,” said Rodger Shanahan, a Middle East research fellow at Australia’s Lowy Institute.

“This is the last thing a country like Lebanon needs right now,” Shanahan told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Wednesday. “Any country would find this difficult, but with Lebanon having been in the middle of probably the worst financial crisis it’s seen … and now here is another example of slack governance — it just continues to reinforce the average Lebanese citizen’s views that they don’t have a government that can govern properly.”

Catastrophe amid already historic crisis

The disaster hit a nation already reeling from crisis and fraught with domestic and regional political tensions.

Lebanon is facing the most severe economic crisis in its history — which economists are calling worse than its bloody 1975-1990 civil war — with skyrocketing inflation and unemployment and a currency in free fall, largely brought on by endemic state-level corruption and financial mismanagement. People’s life savings in the local currency, the Lebanese pound, have seen their value wiped out. The World Bank warned in November that half of the country’s population of 6.8 million may fall below the poverty line.

And this was all before the coronavirus pandemic hit — now, locals are struggling to afford food and basic goods, with angry protesters decrying government inaction and corruption as forcing them to choose between virus infection or starvation. The country has also defaulted on its sovereign debt; Lebanon’s debt-to-GDP of more than 150% is the third-highest in the world. 

A shortage of dollars in the country has slashed the government’s ability to import goods and has led banks to restrict withdrawals, leaving people unable to access their money. Talks with the International Monetary Fund over an emergency bailout package broke down last month.

Smoke rises from the site of an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020.

Issam Abdallah | Reuters

The small Mediterranean country is also home to more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Endemic state corruption, crumbling infrastructure, regular power cuts, a pollution crisis and government failure to provide many basic services led to nationwide protests that began in October and continue in various iterations.

On Monday, Lebanon’s foreign minister resigned, criticizing the government’s lack of action and will to solve the country’s financial problems that risk making it a “failed state.” And the port explosion came as tensions simmered ahead of a U.N. tribunal verdict scheduled for Friday on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a truck bombing in 2005.

The four suspects in the trial are all members of Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Shiite paramilitary and political group widely seen as the most powerful political party in Lebanon. The suspects deny any role in Hariri’s death. Hezbollah is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. 

CNBC’s Riya Bhattacharjee contributed reporting

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California death

California Coronavirus Update: First Teen Death From Virus Confirmed In State As Death Toll Passes 9,000 – Deadline

On Friday, the California Department of Public Health reported the first confirmed death of a teen from coronavirus in the state.

In a statement, the department said the following:

The California Department of Public Health confirmed today the COVID-related death of a teenager in the Central Valley. This is the first death in California of a teenager, and this young person had underlying health conditions. Due to patient confidentiality, CDPH will not provide any additional information about this death. There have been no reported deaths in younger age categories, including children 5 and under.

Per the official statement, this is the first confirmed coronavirus death in a Californian under the age 18. There have been other minors who are suspected to have succumbed to the virus, but the connection was never confirmed via a positive test.

The news comes just one day after an outbreak was reported at USC, infecting about 40 people on fraternity row there.

“A significant number of the cases were associated with four fraternity houses,” a university health official said.

In all, about 150 Trojan students and employees have tested positive so far, even as the school has moved the vast majority of classes online, canceled events, limited on-campus housing, added mask requirements as well as social-distancing and symptom-checking measures.

While early in L.A.’s coronavirus outbreak cases were much more prevalent among people over 60 years old, a majority of the area’s infections have now been recorded in people between the ages of 18 and 49.

California also quietly reported on Friday that it has seen 9,000 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began. There was no media announcement, no press conference from once-ubiquitous Governor Gavin Newsom.

California now trails only New York and New Jersey in terms of death toll from the virus. While those states have bent the COVID curve down, California is still losing record numbers of residents daily.

The state saw an all-time high of 197 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday. California’s pandemic accounted for another 194 new deaths on Thursday.

Deaths have dramatically increased from the near-flat levels in June. Two weeks ago, that daily average of lives lost due to the virus was just 89. On Friday, the 14-day daily average of daily deaths attributed to coronavirus had risen to 112.

The spike began in earnest last week, with a then-record 157 deaths on Thursday topped by 159 deaths recorded last Friday.

Over the weekend and early in the week, those numbers dipped as state officials announced new reporting protocols had created a backlog of results. The recent skyrocketing numbers are, no doubt, at least in part due to that backlog. But the fact that they have resumed on a march to new highs does not bode well.

In addition to the deaths milestone, California reported 8,086 new coronavirus cases, for a total of 493,588 since the pandemic began.

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death Flood

Flood death toll hits 20 as Japan warned of more rainfall – Reuters

Local residents are rescued by Japanese Self-Defence Force soldiers using a boat at a flooding area caused by a heavy rain in Kuma village, Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 5, 2020. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) – The death toll from floods and landslides unleashed by torrential rains on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu rose to 20 on Sunday, with 14 people missing, NHK public TV said.

More heavy rain is forecast after Saturday’s deadly deluge in the Kumamoto prefecture, Japan’s worst natural disaster since Typhoon Hagibis in October last year left about 90 people dead.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a meeting of Japan’s disaster response task force to step up the search and rescue operations.

“Nothing is more important than human lives. Please make utmost effort through the night to search for missing people,” Abe said after Japanese television broadcast images of overturned cars, people shovelling mud from their homes and the military rescuing stranded residents in boats.

“We had no electricity and no running water,” one rescued woman told the broadcaster. “It was tough.”

TV footage also showed a gymnasium-turned-evacuation centre equipped with face masks, disinfectants and thermometers to prevent coronavirus infections.

The Japan Meteorological Agency urged people to stay vigilant, as more rains are predicted.

“From this evening on, extremely heavy rains with thunder are expected in southern as well as northern Kyushu,” an agency official told Reuters.

“The rainfall so far has already loosened the ground. There is a high chance of landslides occurring, even without much additional rain.”

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Alexander Smith

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Coronavirus death

U.S. death toll from coronavirus tops 100,000 – CBS News

More than 100,000 people have died from coronavirus in the U.S., the highest death toll of any nation, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. There have been nearly 1.7 million confirmed cases of the virus across the country (out of more than 5.6 million cases worldwide).

New York continues to have the highest number of deaths of any state in the U.S., with more than 29,000. New Jersey, the state with the second-highest toll, has lost over 11,000 people to the illness.

CBS News has collected stories of some of the lives lost to coronavirus. Among them are nurses, grocery store clerks, a former White House butler, beloved actors and singers, a mother and son who died nine days apart, a 45-year-old police officer, a 25-year-old master’s student, and many more people from all walks of life. 

The CDC reports that at least 291 doctors, nurses and other health care workers in the U.S. have died — many of them likely infected on the job while caring for the sick.

Remembering the victims of COVID-19 as death toll reaches 100,000

The virus has had a disproportionate impact on people of color. The African American and Latin American communities in particular have been afflicted with high numbers of cases and a greater share of fatalities.

In New York City, the country’s coronavirus epicenter, the Bronx and Queens have reported the most cases — both areas with more low-income neighborhoods and with high populations of people of color. Some ZIP codes in the city have double the infection rate of New York’s general population. 

New York City deaths by race/ethnicity as of May 26, 2020.

At the height of New York’s coronavirus outbreak, the single-day COVID-19 death toll in New York was close to 800 for several days in a row in April. On Tuesday, the state’s daily death toll was down to 73, a number that Governor Andrew Cuomo noted was still a tragedy. 

Despite the grim milestone, states across the U.S. are going ahead with plans to reopen. 

Texas, which has entered the second phase of its reopening, reported its largest single-day increase in confirmed cases since the pandemic began last week.

The Panhandle town of Dumas, Texas, recorded the highest per capita number of cases in the state. One in 41 residents there have tested positive for COVID-19, according to CBS Houston affiliate KHOU-TV. The outbreak is believed to be tied to meatpacking plants. Governor Greg Abbott has delayed reopening plans in four Panhandle counties. 

A significant portion of coronavirus deaths are occurring in nursing homes across the country. Just last week, over 30% of total coronavirus deaths were connected to nursing homes. 

A lack of staff at these facilities may have made the problem worse. CBS News found that roughly 1 in 15 U.S. nursing homes was cited last year for failing to meet standards for “sufficient nursing staff.”

Coronavirus in Navajo Nation

A different kind of shortage has made the Navajo Nation, which covers land in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, a target of the pandemic: About 30% of the homes there do not have running water. During a time when hand-washing is critical, that lack of infrastructure has contributed to the community having what its president says is the highest COVID-19 infection rate per capita in the U.S. 

In an attempt to slow the spread the virus, Navajo Nation spent the weekend under a strict 57-hour lockdown. Gallup, New Mexico, closed all roads into the city earlier this month in order to stymie its rampant outbreak. 

China, where the coronavirus outbreak began in late 2019, reported no new confirmed cases Saturday for the first time since it began announcing infections in January. China also reported no new deaths and only two suspected cases in 24 hours. 

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death nears

As death toll nears 100,000, some Americans break from social distancing during holiday weekend – CNN

(CNN)The number of deaths caused by the novel coronavirus neared 100,000 on Monday, as Americans — some who decided to forgo social distancing — wrapped up their Memorial Day weekends.

As of Monday evening, the number of coronavirus-related deaths had reached 98,218, more than the number of US troops killed in the Korean and Vietnam wars combined.
President Donald Trump commemorated Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery and at an event in Baltimore, where he added a tribute to the victims of the virus.
“As one nation, we mourn alongside every single family that has lost loved ones, including the families of our great veterans,” he said at the second event. “Together, we will vanquish the virus and America will rise from this crisis to new and greater heights.”
At a glance, it looked this weekend like many Americans have forgotten about the dangers of coronavirus.
Crowds packed beaches in Florida, Maryland, Georgia, Virginia and Indiana. Many people ventured out without masks and others failed to keep their distance even as officials highlighted the continued importance of both in order to prevent another surge of infections.
It wasn’t just the beaches. Pictures posted on social media showed mostly unmasked people crowded together at Ace Speedway in Elon, North Carolina, on Saturday.
“We’re tired of being stuck in the house. I’m not afraid of this virus one bit,” spectator Becky Woosley told CNN affiliate WGHP.
Speedway co-owner Jason Turner told CNN affiliate WXII that 2,500 fans were admitted — half of the speedway capacity — and that staff encouraged but did not enforce social distancing.
“People have the right to choose where they go and what they do,” he said.
In Daytona Beach, people elbow-to-elbow jammed a main thoroughfare. Mayor Derrick Henry said there’s only so much police can do with a crowd that size.
“They were not practicing social distancing and they did not necessarily respond in a lot of ways that we wanted them to as it relates to the normal expectations of visitors,” he told CNN. “When … you got 300 to 500 people per law enforcement officer, it is a tough order.”
In Missouri, hundreds attended a pool party just days after a similar party in neighboring Arkansas caused a cluster of new coronavirus cases. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state is now experiencing a “second peak.”
Hutchinson said the first peak saw 160 cases in one day followed by a “deep dip.” On Saturday, there were 163 new cases of Covid-19 in Arkansas.
But in Delaware, Gov. John Carney, who made a trip to Rehoboth Beach, said he was encouraged by what he saw.
“I saw not many people on the beaches,” Carney told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “It wasn’t a great beach day in terms of the weather. But on the boardwalk, most of the people, I’d say 80%, were wearing masks as we require.”
Carney said he was impressed by the signage, the 6 foot separation markings and plexiglass shields.

‘They’re willing to take the risk’

Coronavirus cases are trending upward in 18 states, including Alabama. Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed said Monday morning that he thinks the early easing of restrictions in his state has given people “a false sense of security.”
“What we’re seeing is kind of a split community where you have people who believe this is over and have decided they’re going to get back to their normal way of life and they’re willing to take the risk,” Reed said on CNN. “What they’re not considering is the risk they’re posing to others when they do not see some of the symptoms in themselves.”
As health officials warn the deadly virus isn’t yet contained, local leaders across the country are working to enforce regulations put in place for parks, stores, bars and restaurants that have reopened.
In Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner said authorities will begin enforcing capacity limits for bars and restaurants after the city received hundreds of complaints alleging violations.
“One of my council members sent me some pictures and there were other pictures on Facebook and social media of people around swimming pools, no social distancing, no masks,” he said Monday on CNN. “I just said, we have to pump the brakes.”
Video from a pool party held at Clé nightclub in Houston, where many people without masks were seen crowded around the pool, helped prompt the decision, the mayor’s office said. CNN has reached out to the club.
New Haven, Connecticut, Mayor Justin Elicker said the city has taken out picnic tables and banned cooking out to cut down on crowds.
“New Haven residents have been really good at following the social distancing guidelines but people also feel really cooped up and I think a lot of people are feeling frustrated,” he said.
Mayor Henry from Daytona Beach said enforcing the face mask rule is realistically impossible because of the sheer number of offenders.
“We don’t have enough facilities to harbor that many people who do not follow guidelines,” he said.

Another vaccine candidate to be tested on humans

Maryland-based biotechnology company Novavax announced plans to begin enrolling about 130 people with an experimental vaccine. The company will become the 10th in the world to start a human trial of a potential vaccines against Covid-19.
The first volunteer is expected to be vaccinated Monday evening in Australia, where the initial phase of the trial is being conducted at two sites.
The vaccine produced high levels of neutralizing antibodies in pre-clinical testing, according to a company news release. The data has not been peer reviewed or published in a medical journal.

Spike of cases in Washington, DC

As Americans push to return to normal lifestyles and the country continues lifting coronavirus restrictions, experts say many parts of the country are still not heading in the right direction.
North Carolina recorded its highest single-day surge of new cases over the weekend and parts of Maryland, Virginia, Illinois and other states are still seeing a high number of infections, said Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator.
In Washington, DC, health officials are reporting a spike of new cases — an increase that could be a setback for the criteria officials are using to decide when the city will begin its first stage of reopening.
Until this weekend, Washington recorded 11 days of declining community spread of the coronavirus. The city said 14 days of decline were needed before they moved to reopen. Sunday would have marked the 13th day of decline. Instead there was a small spike over the last two days.
But because the spike was a small one, health officials say they’ll consider setting back to the 11th day of the decline instead of starting the count from the beginning.
“We don’t have to go to day zero,” Director of the DC Department of Health, Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, said in a news conference call.

A 17-year-old dies in Georgia

In Georgia, one of the first states to begin reopening, officials reported Sunday the state’s youngest coronavirus death.
The victim was a 17-year-old boy, according to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health. The boy had underlying medical conditions. The department didn’t offer any further details.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that while many young people who got coronavirus did not have serious problems, health experts are investigating a virus-related complication in children across the country, dubbed multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.

White House rolls out travel restrictions

As US officials try to get a handle on the spread of the virus, President Donald Trump announced Sunday he was suspending travel into the US for people who had been to Brazil within the past two weeks.
Brazil now is second to the US with the highest number of coronavirus cases, recording more than 363,200 infections, according to Johns Hopkins.
Over the weekend, the country recorded more than 15,000 new infections in just 24 hours.

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death official

On top of official death toll, number of coronavirus-related deaths also up in NYC – POLITICO

People overlooking Hudson River and New York City | AP Photo

People overlooking Hudson River and New York City. | AP Photo

NEW YORK — The number of potential coronavirus-related deaths in New York City has jumped to 5,293 — up from roughly 3,000 in mid-April — according to health department data published Monday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last month, the city expanded its death toll significantly by including probable coronavirus deaths — those that were likely due to the coronavirus but had not been confirmed for a variety of reasons. However, city officials warned there were 3,000 or so additional deaths that were related to the coronavirus but did not have a strong enough link to be classified as such.


Those may include people who suffered from the coronavirus but did not have it noted on their death certificate. In other cases, the primary cause may be something else, but exacerbated by a coronavirus infection. In particular, there has been a surge in cardiac arrests — and officials are probing whether many of the heart attacks were caused by the coronavirus.

According to health department data published by the CDC, those cases are now estimated at 5,293.

“During March 11–May 2, 2020, a total of 32,107 deaths were reported to DOHMH; of these deaths, 24,172 were found to be in excess of the seasonal expected baseline,” the CDC report reads. “Included in the 24,172 deaths were 13,831 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19–associated deaths and 5,048 probable COVID-19–associated deaths, leaving 5,293 excess deaths that were not identified as either laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19–associated deaths.”

By Monday the virus had killed 19,931 people in the city — a number that includes confirmed and probable cases, but not the 5,293 potentially related cases.

“This crisis has taken a devastating toll on our city and we are still working to fully measure the scale of what we’ve lost,” New York City health department spokesperson Patrick Gallahue said in a statement. “This is a critical part of both understanding the virus as well as the healing process that New Yorkers will go through.”

President Donald Trump and his supporters argue the death tolls are overblown because some authorities are including suspected, but not confirmed, coronavirus deaths in their initial totals. Health specialists say the approach is essential to ensure that the death toll is not significantly undercounted in the moment.

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