An FBI team is taking part in the investigation into the massive August 4 explosion at the invitation of Lebanese authorities.

Rescuers use excavators to clear the rubble at the site of damaged grain silos in Beirut port on August 12, 2020.
Rescuers use excavators to clear the rubble at the site of damaged grain silos in Beirut port on August 12, 2020. (AFP)

A team of FBI investigators are due to arrive in Lebanon this weekend to take part in the probe of Beirut's massive explosion.

David Hale, US undersecretary of state for political affairs on Saturday called for a thorough and transparent investigation after visiting the location of the blast.

He said the FBI team is taking part at the invitation of Lebanese authorities in order to find answers about what caused the August 4 explosion which killed nearly 180 people and wounded thousands.

The cause of the fire that ignited nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate at Beirut’s port remains unclear.

Documents have emerged showing the country’s top leadership and security officials were aware of the chemicals stored at the port. French investigators are also taking part in the Lebanese-led probe.

READ MORE: Children in Beirut suffer from trauma after deadly blast

'Transparent and credible'

“We really need to make sure that there is a thorough, a transparent and credible investigation. I know that is what everyone is demanding,” Hale said.

Search and rescue crews flew in from around the world in the immediate aftermath. Hale toured the site of the blast with Lebanese army officers.

Many Lebanese want the probe taken out of the hands of their government, fearing that bickering among the long-entrenched political factions, notorious for corruption, won’t allow any results to come to light that are damaging to their leadership.

Top Lebanese officials, including President Michel Aoun, have rejected calls for an independent probe, describing it as “a waste of time” that would be politicised.

READ MORE: France confirms two of its citizens among dead in Beirut explosion

Rising public anger

Hale also stressed the need for full state control over ports and borders, in an apparent reference to claims that Hezbollah holds influence over both in Lebanon.

“We can never go back to an era in which anything goes at the port or borders of Lebanon," he said.

Under pressure, Lebanon’s government resigned on August10. For now, there are no formal consultations underway on who will replace Hassan Diab as prime minister and no likely candidate has emerged. But the flurry of diplomatic visits appeared designed to influence the forming of the new government.

Popular anger has swelled over the ruling elite's corruption, mismanagement and political uncertainty. Western leaders have said they will send aid directly to the Lebanese people and that billions of dollars will not be pumped into the country before major reforms take place.

On Friday, the United Nations launched a $565 million appeal for Lebanon with immediate humanitarian assistance and initial recovery efforts.

Washington and its allies consider Hezbollah a terrorist organisation, and have accused the Iran-backed group of abusing government funds. Local media have speculated that Hale would be pushing for a government that excludes Hezbollah.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies