Explosive chemical storage under scrutiny

An army helicopter drops water at the smouldering scene of the explosion – EYEVINE Officials

An army helicopter drops water at the smouldering scene of the explosion - EYEVINE
An army helicopter drops water at the smouldering scene of the explosion – EYEVINE

Officials warned chemicals ‘could blow up all of Beirut’

As the dust settles, Beirut is searching for answers. According to preliminary investigations, Lebanese port officials had spent years calling for the removal of the dangerous chemicals from the waterfront warehouse that exploded killing at least 135 people and wrecking the homes of 300,000 residents. Tuesday’s blast was likely to have been caused by the detonation of more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored at the dock since being confiscated from a cargo ship in 2014. Middle East Correspondent Campbell MacDiarmid reports that a source close to a port employee said a team that inspected the material six months ago warned it could “blow up all of Beirut” if not removed. Finbar Anderson, who dived for shelter as shockwaves destroyed his apartment, has written a first-person piece on his brush with death. And read our dispatch for more human tales from the desperate search for survivors in a rubble-strewn city.

This week also marks 75 years since an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, which began the period in history that came to be known as the nuclear age. I can recommend our special anniversary long-read, in which Jonathan Holmes gives a minute-by-minute account of that fateful day, witness accounts from survivors, how the city was rebuilt – and examines how the world was changed forever.

Twitter freezes Trump account over false claim

Donald Trump’s campaign was briefly banned from posting on Twitter last night until it agreed to remove a video in which he made false Covid-19 claims. In the most radical action against the President by any major social network so far, the company said it had temporarily frozen the Team Trump account due to a breach of misinformation rules. A video clip from a TV interview showed Mr Trump claiming that children are “almost immune” from coronavirus. In fact, research suggests that children can spread the virus as easily as adults and some have died. US Technology Reporter Laurence Dodds explains how Facebook also took unprecedented action. Meanwhile, Former First Lady Michelle Obama revealed she has “low-grade depression” from quarantine, racial strife in the US – and the “hypocrisy” of the Trump administration.

Ranked: The 20 accents regarded as most attractive

Yesh, it is. The Edinburgh accent has been voted among the most attractive in the world thanks to “the Bond effect” – courtesy of Sir Sean Connery, a survey has found. Researchers asked 1,000 Britons to listen to voice recordings spoken in 20 dialects and rank them on a scale of one to five, based on various positive traits, including attractiveness. How does yours compare? View the full list of accents regarded as the best.

At a glance: More coronavirus headlines

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

Green streets | All new streets will have to be tree-lined under proposed planning laws that will bring an end to “identikit estates”. Green-belt land will remain protected and new-build homes will be in keeping with their surroundings. Political Editor Gordon Rayner writes that ministers will also speed up the planning process in what Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary, called a “once in a generation” reform.  

Around the world: One on one teaching at home

A teacher wears a biohazard suit as a preventive measure against the spread of Covid-19 and gives a class to a girl at home in Cali, Colombia. View more striking pictures of the day from around the world.

The 'teacher at home' scheme has been implemented by a local school. CREDIT: GETTY - LUIS ROBAYO /Getty
The ‘teacher at home’ scheme has been implemented by a local school. CREDIT: GETTY – LUIS ROBAYO /Getty

Comment and analysis

Editor’s choice: Features and arts

  1. Big office divide | Tensions between stay-at-home brigade v commuting crew

  2. Secret seaside | Ten UK alternatives to crowded Cornwall beaches

  3. Game of Thrones | Never mind winter – the cancel mob is coming for George RR Martin

Business and money briefing

Rishi’s dishes | Restaurants and pubs enjoyed a much-needed uplift in visitors this week as the prospect of a half price meal encouraged people out of their homes. More than 73,000 restaurants have signed up to the “eat out to help out” scheme launched by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.  

Sport briefing

Gunners still splash out | Arsenal will press ahead with attempts to sign Chelsea winger Willian – despite widespread shock at their announcement that 55 staff are to be made redundant. In a statement made just four days after the club’s FA Cup triumph, Arsenal said the redundancies would ensure they can adapt to a post-pandemic world.  

And finally… for this morning’s downtime

Mulan on demand | You might have thought that five months into a crisis, Hollywood would have realised the importance of calm and collaborative action. Instead, the business has poured itself another glass of absinthe and cracked open the Sartre. Robbie Collin writes that Disney’s decision to bypass cinemas and put Mulan online is a potentially lethal move by an out-of-touch industry

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