Beirut car bomb death toll rises as investigators consider suicide possibility

DNA tests conducted on body parts discovered near the vehicle that blew up yesterday, killing at least 24

The death toll from a massive car bomb in Beirut has risen to at least 24, with another 335 people wounded.

Government investigators are studying CCTV footage from the moments before Thursday’s devastating blast in attempts to establish whether it was a suicide attack.

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said they believed they had identified the van involved, and were not ruling anything out regarding the method used to set off the explosion.

“The first hypothesis is that the driver blew himself up, while the second hypothesis says that the car may have been blown up from a distance,” Lebanon's National News Agency quoted Charbel as saying.

Reporters who arrived at the scene minutes after the explosion saw a burnt-out car near the centre of the road, suggesting it was being driven when it blew up.

Hezbollah parliamentarian Ali Ammar told reporters in south Beirut on Friday that the death toll had reached 24, while Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said 21 bodies were taken to hospitals and another 335 wounded people had been treated.

The discrepancy may be the result of some bodies being too badly damaged in the explosion to be collected or identified.

Among the dead were a family of five - a father, mother and their three daughters - who were in their car as the blast destroyed several surrounding vehicles and briefly engulfed the lower floors of adjacent building in flames, trapping residents.

Forensic investigators, emergency workers and security forces were still working at the site on Friday morning, amid burnt out cars and charred facades of residential buildings.

Nearby, masked men fired in the air as the first funeral processions for drove slowly through the streets of densely populated south Beirut.

The blast, a month after another car bomb wounded more than 50 people in the same district of the Lebanese capital, came amid sectarian tensions over the intervention of Shi'ite Muslim Hezbollah against Sunni rebels in Syria's civil war.

A Sunni Islamist group calling itself the Brigades of Aisha claimed responsibility for the attack and promised more operations against Hezbollah.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is expected to give his response later on Friday in an address marking the seventh anniversary of the end of the group’s 2006 war with Israel.

Additional reporting by agencies

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'