Hospitals in blast-hit north Lebanon grapple with power outages

Hospitals in Lebanon's Akkar region struggle after a fuel tank explosion, with the Lebanese parliament set to discuss the fuel crisis on Friday.

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Hospitals in the Akkar region of northern Lebanon, where a fuel tank blast killed at least 28 people this week, are too fraught to work as life-threatening power cuts and telecom outages sweep the area.

Lights and phone lines went out across the penurious and demoted region that has long battled over an ailing power grid but that is now contending with an extraordinary crisis due to severe fuel shortages nationwide.

The outages come less than two days after a fuel tank exploded in the village of al-Tleil, scorching people insisting on filling up the petrol that the army was distributing. About 80 people, comprising several soldiers, were injured. Many of them were left with severe burns, overwhelming hospitals.

Fuel scarcities since the start of this summer have intensified hardship in Lebanon, a country of more than six million that is in the throes of an economic crisis branded by the World Bank as one of the worst since the mid-19th century.

Without the fuel needed to power private generators, businesses, hospitals, and even the country’s main telecom operator have had to scale back operations or close entirely due to outages lasting up to 22 hours a day.

In Akkar, hospitals still storing corpses of victims charred in Sunday’s blast were left without power, internet, and working landlines, as health officials pleaded for help from the authorities.

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