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Beirut celebrates while refugee exodus gathers pace

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Beirut celebrates while refugee exodus gathers pace


There have been celebrations on the streets of Beirut following claims that Hizbollah rockets had hit an Israeli warship off the port of Tyre in southern Lebanon. The militant group said the attack was the start of a campaign of revenge for Sunday’s bombing of the village of Qana. Israel, however, claimed none of its vessels had been hit. Despite Israel’s announcement of a lull in air assaults, the situation for many in south Lebanon has not improved.

Those who have the means and the opportunity to flee the fighting and head north have done so, blocking the roads with bumper to bumper traffic. A quarter of Lebanon’s population has been displaced. The implications for the Beirut region, where the influx of refugees and evacuees has been greatest, is still not clear. Behind them, they leave ghost towns and villages.

Aid convoys have headed into the worst-hit areas of southern Lebanon to help those who are staying behind. Rescue workers found a total of 49 bodies which had been buried for days in collapsed buildings and destroyed vehicles. Meanwhile, far from the calm interlude, the bombs continue to drop on the Lebanon-Syria border. Three trucks were targeted at the main crossing point. One was completely destroyed. Seven people were injured.

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