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Lebanon: Insurance claims top $425m after Beirut blast

A damaged car and building are seen after a fire at a warehouse with explosives at the Port of Beirut led to massive blasts in Lebanon, 14 August 2020 [Enes Canli/Anadolu Agency]
A damaged car and building are seen after a fire at a warehouse with explosives at the Port of Beirut led to massive blasts in Lebanon, 14 August 2020 [Enes Canli/Anadolu Agency]

Insurance claims for damages sustained in the Beirut blast have topped $425 million, according to Lebanon's caretaker Minister for the Economy Raoul Nehme.

The sum, Nehme said, had been calculated from nearly 3,000 insurance claims filed in the days immediately after the explosion, with thousands more expected in the coming weeks.

Nehme, who estimated the number of claims could reach 10,000, urged all citizens to contact their insurance companies to inquire about a pay-out.

Insurance companies, meanwhile, have said they will wait for the result of an investigation into the cause of the blast before processing and paying out claims.

If the blast is found to have been a terrorist attack, insurance companies are unlikely to make the payments, according to a report by the New Arab.

READ: Lebanese president urges unity amid Hariri ruling

Local outlet, the Daily Star cited Elie Torbey, chairman of the Association of Insurance Companies claiming insurance policy holders are unlikely to receive a pay-out unless their cover includes accidents involving "bombs, chemicals, dangerous materials or act of war or act of terrorism".

The 4 August explosion, which, according to Lebanese officials, happened when 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate ignited in Beirut's port, caused extensive material damage, shattering windows and balconies as far as 15 miles from the site of the blast.

The Governor of Beirut Marwan Abboud has estimated over 300,000 Lebanese citizens were made homeless as a result of the explosion. Nearly 200 were reported dead while thousands more were injured.

An investigation into the cause of the blast started earlier this week, with local and international personnel, including investigators from the US' FBI expected to aid the inquiry.

Already, the Director General of Beirut Customs Badiri Daher, who was put under house arrest days after the blast, has been arrested in connection with the case.

A further 22 suspects, including former and current ministers are set to facing questioning in the coming days.

The investigation started just before the verdict from the Special Tribunal of Lebanon on Rafic Hariri's assassination was announced yesterday. Some observers have said the same hybridised court could be used to prosecute those responsible for the explosion.

READ: Lebanon orders two-week shutdown after COVID-19 surge

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