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Has the Lebanese government resigned and is the prime minister stepping down following the Beirut explosion?

THE LEBANESE government has resigned and Prime Minister Hassan Diab has stepped down as a result of the deadly August 4 blast in Beirut.

Prime Minister Diab made the announcement in a televised address on Monday evening.

Here's more on the statement and the shocking blast.

What happened in Beirut?

Thousands were injured and many died in a fireball chemical warehouse explosion in Beirut which flattened buildings, ripped people's clothes from their bodies, and damaged properties up to six miles away.

The explosion killed 135 people and injured 5,000 others.

The blast - which has caused up to $5.2billion worth of damage - was so large it could be heard 110 miles across the sea in Cyprus.

The explosion had one fifth the power of a nuclear bomb.

Lebanese health minister Hamad Hasan said "I have never in my life seen a disaster this big," as hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless.

Has the Lebanese government resigned?

The Lebanese government has resigned in the wake of angry protests about the deadly blast.

Protesters demanded the overturn of the country's political leadership following the incident that devastated thousands.

The announcement was made in a national TV address by Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Monday evening.

"Today we follow the will of the people in their demand to hold accountable those responsible for the disaster that has been in hiding for seven years, and their desire for real change," Diab said.

"I declare today the resignation of this government. May God protect Lebanon," he continued, repeating the last phrase three times.

Port officials have pointed the finger at the government as they claimed to have repeatedly warned the authorities of the dangerous cargo at Warehouse 12 where the explosion occurred.

Nationwide protests formed as Lebanon's government and customs officials pointed fingers at each other as to who is the blame for the monstrous explosion.

"Hang up the nooses" trended across Lebanese social media in an indication of the fury that followed the initial shock and grief.

President Michel Aoun said the government was "determined to investigate and expose what happened as soon as possible, to hold the responsible and the negligent accountable."

Sources close to the investigation blamed the incident on "inaction and negligence." saying "nothing was done" by committees and judges involved in removing the explosives.

Before it's dissolution, the Lebanese government cabinet ordered port officials involved in storing or guarding the material since 2014 to be put under house arrest.

Public Works Minister Michel Najjar told Al Jazeera he had only found out about the presence of the explosive material stashed at the port 11 days before the explosion.

Is the Prime Minister stepping down?

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab has also stepped down from his post.

The announcement came this week after tensions are mounting over who's to blame for the negligence.

Diab asked the country's government to stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new cabinet is formed.

He said  he was taking "a step back" so he could stand with the people "and fight the battle for change alongside them."

What we know about the Beirut blast so far

The fallout from the explosion.

Prior to his resignation, he had said that those responsible for the explosion at the “dangerous” warehouse in the Beirut port area that rocked the capital would pay the price.

He said: “I promise you that this catastrophe will not pass without accountability. Those responsible will pay the price.

“Facts about this dangerous warehouse that has been there since 2014 will be announced and I will not preempt the investigations."

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told a news briefing on Tuesday that President Trump's administration is tracking the aftermath.

The US State Department said they are ready to offer "all possible assistance" to Lebanon.

How many people were killed in the explosion?

At least 135 people were killed in the explosion.

It has emerged the powder-keg of chemicals was shipped by Russian businessman Igor Grechushkin who has been accused of abandoning it in Beirut.

The killer cargo was confiscated in 2014 from the Moldovan-flagged ship Rhosus while en route from Batumi in the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia to Mozambique.

Grechushkin was said to have paid a “huge penalty” for transporting the cargo without authority which led to him going bust - later moving to Cyprus with his wife Irina.

Beirut's governor Marwan Aboud said as many as 300,000 people may have been left homeless with many buildings reduced to an uninhabitable mess of rubble and glass as a result of the explosion.

What caused the explosion?

The source of the blast is believed to be 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate which had been stored in a warehouse without safety measures since 2014.

Security sources reportedly claimed a welder had sparked the initial fire that in turn ignited the chemicals - causing a blast the fifth the size of Hiroshima.

A picture has emerged which is said to show bags of ammonium nitrate packed into the warehouse.

Questions continue to be asked as to how the disaster could be allowed to happen.

Ammonium nitrate is mainly used as a fertilizer, but has also been linked to terror attacks after being used in homemade bombs.

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