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Beirut Blast Death Toll Reaches 100 With More Than 4,000 Wounded

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In Lebanon, at least 100 persons have been killed and nearly 4,000 injured after a huge explosion devastated the port area of the capital Beirut on Tuesday.

At the moment rescue workers in Lebanon are still searching through rubble looking for survivors for more than a hundred people who are missing.

President Michel Aoun who has called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday said that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilizers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures, a decision he said that was “unacceptable”.

Many Lebanese are expressing immense shock and sadness at the destruction, and great anger towards those who allowed the explosion which sent shockwaves across the capital to happen.

According to BBC an eyewitness Hadi Nasrallah who narrated his ordeal after the explosion said he saw the fire but did not expect the blast. “I lost my hearing for a few seconds, I knew something was wrong, and then suddenly the glass just shattered all over the car, the cars around us, the shops, the stores, the buildings. Just glass going down from all over the building.”

Dazed, weeping and injured people walked through streets searching for relatives as many were also left homeless by the blast, and some residents said their destroyed homes had been burgled in the night as their windows and doors were blown open.

The head of Lebanon’s Red Cross, George Kettani, said at least 100 persons had been killed.

He said “we are still sweeping the area. There could still be victims. I hope not.”

The Lebanese government has said it will observe an official period of mourning for three days from Wednesday.

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Dog Spent Days Outside Turkish Hospital Waiting For Sick Owner

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A devoted dog has spent days waiting outside a hospital in northern Turkey where her sick owner was receiving treatment.

The pet, Boncuk (Bon-DJUK), which means bead, followed the ambulance that transported her owner, Cemal Senturk, to hospital in the Black Sea city of Trabzon on Jan. 14. She then made daily visits to the facility, private news agency DHA reported on Wednesday.

Senturk’s daughter, Aynur Egeli, said she would take Boncuk home but the dog would repeatedly run off and return to the hospital.

Hospital security guard Muhammet Akdeniz told DHA: “She comes every day around 9 a.m. and waits until nightfall. She doesn’t go in.”

“When the door opens she pokes her head inside,” he said.

On Wednesday, Boncuk was finally reunited with Senturk when he was pushed outside in a wheelchair for a brief meeting with his dog.

“She’s very used to me. And I miss her, too, constantly,” he told DHA.

Senturk was discharged from the hospital later on Wednesday and returned home with Boncuk. (AP)

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Hungary approves Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine

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Hungary has become the first country in the European Union to give preliminary approval to the Russian coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V.

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff confirmed both the Russian jab and the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine have been approved.

Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto has been scheduled to travel to Moscow for further talks, where he is expected to discuss a shipment and distribution plans.

Hungarian health officials are also in Beijing for discussions on the approval and immediate delivery of one million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, already being used in Serbia.

Sinopharm is a Chinese company that announced last month phase three trials of its jab showed 79% effectiveness.

At least 140,000 Hungarians have already been vaccinated with it.

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UK Stands Firm In Row Over EU Envoy’s Diplomatic Status

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The United Kingdom and the European Union are at logger-heads over the status of the bloc’s ambassador in London.

The UK is refusing to give Joao Vale De Almeida full diplomatic status granted to other ambassadors.

The foreign office is insisting he and his officials should not have the privileges and immunities afforded to diplomats under the Vienna convention.

This means the ambassador would not have the chance to present his credentials to the queen like other diplomatic heads of mission.

The issue is expected to be discussed by EU foreign ministers next Monday when they meet for the first time since the post-Brexit transition period ended last December.

The foreign, commonwealth and development office wants to treat the EU delegation only as representatives of an international organization.

This means EU diplomats would not have the full protection of the Vienna convention, giving them immunity from detention, criminal jurisdiction and taxation.

The EU argues it is not a typical international organization because it has its own currency, judicial system and the power to make law.

Former conservative minister for Europe, David Lidington, warned that “non-recognition could set a bad precedent for regimes that hate EU ambassadors speaking up for human rights defenders.”

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