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Clooneys donate to Lebanese charities after horrific blast

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A soldier walks at the devastated site of the explosion in the port of Beirut

A soldier walks at the devastated site of the explosion in the port of Beirut

AP

Amal and George Clooney

Amal and George Clooney

A soldier walks at the devastated site of the explosion in the port of Beirut

George and Amal Clooney have made major donations to three Lebanese charities after capital Beirut was rocked by a deadly explosion.

Yesterday rescue teams were still searching the rubble of Beirut's port for bodies, nearly three days after a massive blast sent a wave of destruction through Lebanon's capital, killing nearly 150 people and wounding thousands.

At least three more bodies have been recovered in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 149, according to authorities.

Countries around the world, including the UK, have pledged aid.

The Clooneys, who live in Britain, have donated 100,000 dollars (£76,000) to three charities.

Human rights lawyer Amal (42) was born in Beirut. "We're both deeply concerned for the people of Beirut and the devastation they've faced in the last few days," the couple said.

They have donated money to the Lebanese Red Cross, Impact Lebanon, and Baytna Baytak.

The couple added: "We will be donating to these charities $100,000 and hope that others will help in any way they can."

Amal and her family left Lebanon when she was two years old, escaping the country's civil war.

They settled in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, and Amal later studied at Oxford university.

She became engaged to Hollywood star George (59) in 2014 and they married later that year. They have two children, three-year-old twins Ella and Alexander.

Lebanon has been left devastated by Tuesday's blast. It was apparently caused by an accidental fire that ignited a warehouse full of ammonium nitrate.

The blast shredded a large grain silo, devastated neighbourhoods near the port and left several city blocks littered with glass and rubble. French and Russian rescue teams with dogs were searching the port area on Friday, the day after French President Emmanuel Macron paid a visit to the site, promising aid and vowing to press for reforms by Lebanon's long-entrenched political leaders.

The blast was apparently caused by the ignition of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used for explosives and fertiliser, that had been stored at the port since it was confiscated from an impounded cargo ship in 2013.

The government has launched an investigation as it has come under mounting criticism, with many Lebanese blaming the catastrophe on negligence and corruption.

Search and rescue teams have been sent from several countries to help locate survivors of the blast.

Among those located in the rubble near the grain silo was Joe Akiki, a 23-year-old port worker who had been missing since the explosion. Dozens of people are still missing.

Some 300,000 people, more than 12% of Beirut's population, are unable to return to their homes because of the explosion, which blew out doors and windows across the city and left many buildings uninhabitable.

Officials have estimated losses at 10 billion to 15 billion US dollars. The investigation is focusing on port and customs officials, with 16 employees detained.

Belfast Telegraph