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Beirut Explosion: Health, Safety And Environmental Security Protocols Needed

By Saron Messembe Obia

The United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) sent a team from the Force Commander Reserve to assess the magnitude of 4 August explosion at Beirut’s port. As a result of a huge explosion at Beirut Port 4 August evening, one of the UNIFIL ships of the Maritime Task Force docked in the port was damaged, leaving some UNIFIL naval peacekeepers injured, some of them seriously. (Pic Above) UNIFIL peacekeepers carry out an assessment of the damages in the Beirut Port on 5 August 2020- UN Photo by Pasqual Gorriz

Since the 1980s Lebanon has been fragile, from intelligence breach, corruption and to the negligence of administration, particularly the domain for health safety and environmental security. The October 23, 1983, bombing of the Marine compound at Beirut which left 241 dead, did not appeal on the state to develop new security protocols. The attack was linked to intelligence failure, but what type of improved control measures have been take till date to prevent it from happening again? Though in the past years, maritime security focuses on preventing high-profile events such as piracy, terrorism or cyber-attacks, negligence is a major aspect which concern transit of good by sea. 

On 4 August, the world through media coverage view one of the most dangerous events after the 9/11 in U.S, a warehouse at the Beirut Port exploded, recording widespread casualties and material damage. The incident sparked the immediate intervention of national and international search and rescue teams and disaster management experts requested to support ongoing emergency efforts.  From initial reports more than 135 people were killed and an additional 5,000 people were injured. Infrastructures were damaged around port; commercial and residential neighborhoods and people went missing. Health wise, medical personnel were overwhelmed with casualties, with many intensive care units (ICUs) already near capacity due to COVID-19. The Lebanese government estimates that the explosions left more than 300,000 people homeless in the Greater Beirut area, but part of preventing disasters of such magnet of Beirut will mean strengthening port management and addressing crimes such as smuggling and corruption.

Health, Safety and Environmental Security

The Beirut explosion, on August 4, at around 6pm local time, fueled by 2,750 tons of the highly reactive chemical ammonium nitrate left in a vessel, since 2013 due to a lack of seaworthiness and was prohibited from sailing. The abandoned of the vessel which was loaded with ammonium nitrate though in a storage facility in Beirut’s port, necessitated daily control by health safety and environmental security service, for any danger that could emanate. Another serious example is that of plastics, which can cause hazards if not properly disposed. Using Sri Lankan as an example, following discovery by her administration in 2019 of more than 100 abandoned containers in the port of Colombo, containing clinical waste, and leaking fluids, which might had contaminated the ground and surface water in the two years they had lay in port unnoticed by public health experts. Many countries like Sri Lanka after investigation discover such problem, but it is likely that many cases of abandonment go uncovered. Every port must have a health safety and environmental security department which collaborate with law enforcement department and other specialist in the health sector vest with different types of chemical to carry out daily check on any substance or material dangerous for human health and environment.

Administrative Response 

The explosion led the Lebanon administration to declare a state of emergency. The impact of the blast caused more damage to Beirut than 15 years of civil war. It damaged hospitals-leading to treatment of injured in car parks, and thousands have been left homeless. Several questions keep moderating the debates at the international scene and amongst Lebanese and security experts, as to how could authorities allow 2,750 tonnes of highly explosive ammonium nitrate to be kept in a port warehouse for six years, in the heart of a densely populated city? However, ammonium nitrate which appeal to those engage in science of agriculture. Some may appeal for the ban on the importation of ammonium nitrate, but nitrate make land to be fertile. Since 2017, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) recorded 97 cases of abandoned ships, abandoned by their owners, because it’s no longer lucrative, or perhaps high tax imposed by authorities. The government should introduce security protocols to limit such events in future. 

Containers are often abandoned within ports, modus operandi for criminal activities such as waste smuggling and corruption. Though the exist several challenges to counter this criminal deeds, some security protocols can be put forth to limit the danger of any future blast or cyber-attack. The last question is; should ammonium nitrate be banned? Though the events in Beirut early warning signals were clear years back, health safety is now than no ever primordial for the Lebanese government.

(The Author is the Editor of crimeandmoreworld.com)

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India News Brief

22 September 2020
India COVID-19 New Cases 75,083 in the Last 24 Hours

COVID-19 Total Cases:5,487,580  Deaths: 87,882

COVID-19 At a Glance 

The new guidelines issued by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 29 August

Metro rail will be allowed to operate with effect from 7thSeptember 2020 in a graded manner, by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MOHUA)/ Ministry of Railways (MOR), in consultation with MHA. In this regard, Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) will be issued by MOHUA.

Social/ academic/ sports/ entertainment/ cultural/ religious/ political functions and other congregations will be permitted with a ceiling of 101 persons, with effect from 21st September 2020. However, such limited gatherings can be held with mandatory wearing of face masks, social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and hand wash or sanitizer.Open air theatres will be permitted to open with effect from 21stSeptember 2020.

Schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutions will continue to remain closed for students and regular class activity up to 30 September.
Online/distance learning shall continue to be permitted and shall be encouraged. However, following will be permitted, in areas outside the Containment Zones only, with effect from 21stSeptember 2020 for which, SOP will be issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW):

Cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres (excluding open air theatre) and similar places remain closed.

According to MHA directive, lockdown shall continue to be implemented strictly in the Containment Zones till 30th September, 2020.

COVID-19: Highlights 

Religious Places Visit: No Touching of Deity, No Sparkling of Holy Water No Prasada in Temples Wearing Mask Thermal Screening is a must 

Shopping Malls Visit: Elderly People With 65 Years of Age and Children Below 10 Years Are Advised to Stay at Home.

Restaurant and food courts in malls to operate at 50 per cent seating capacity with a mandatory distance of six feet between tables. No common prayer mats, physical offerings like prasad, or sprinkling of holy water, in places of worship. Age and health-based restrictions on stepping out of home. Masks to be mandatory, and the Aarogya Setu app 'recommended' for all.

Use of masks, thermal screening, social distancing and sanitisation, the guidelines  require people above 65 years of age, specially  people with comorbidities, pregnant woman, and children below the age of 10 years, to stay at home. Masks are mandatory at all times, including inside restaurants

Standard Operating Procedures issued by the Indian Health Ministry 

  • International air travel, Metro rail services not allowed 

Cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places; and, social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions/ and other large congregations will not allowed..

According to MHA guidelines, in Phase II, schools, colleges, educational/ training/ coaching institutions etc., will be opened after consultations with States and Union Territories.

There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission or approval or e-permit will be required for such movement

But  states have the freedom to decide on public movement.

How to identify Fake News or Messeges on Social Media 

Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites or social media platforms of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is www.xxx.com the duplicate one might be www.xxx.com.co or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes and excessive use of Sex related and sensational and hate stories.Because sex and hate sells.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus:
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition

Follow WHO guidelines

www.who.int

When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes,organizations or individual to authenticate the messeges.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources, it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Don't rely on viral social media messages such as Coronavirus Infected Indian Currencies of Rs.500 and Rs.2,000 Notes Found, Muslim Man Spit in Food At Indian Restaurant.....Always Check Authentic Sources.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.

www.boomlive.in

www.altnews.in

https://check4spam.com

https://smhoaxslayer.com

www.factchecker.in

www.allsides.com

www.factcheck.org

www.newsbusters.org

www.politifact.com

www.snopes.com

www.propublica.org

The Same Method Applies to You Tube Videos Check the Source the credibility of the Source.To Check Fake You Tube Videos Check and Recheck the sources. Does the person have the legal right to the video posted? Did that person capture the video? Whether it has been altered?

But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they a.re developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

For any further information relating to fake news and how-to search authentic informations from the internet write to us info@crimeandmoreworld.com or Whats App:+919073399779

COVID-19 Related Conspiracy Theories:
https://fsi.stanford.edu/news/china-covid19

 

 

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