News National Tears for Australian victim of Beirut blast as violent protests erupt

Tears for Australian victim of Beirut blast as violent protests erupt

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An Australian toddler has been named as a victim of the Beirut explosion as simmering rage in the Lebanese capital erupted into violent protests.

Two-year-old Isaac Oehlers is being mourned after the blast that killed 158 people and shattered large parts of the city.

The Department of Home Affairs is helping the family of Isaac, who is believed to be from Western Australia.

His grieving family issued a statement describing the pain of losing their young son and thanking people for their support.

“We are heartbroken by the sudden and tragic loss of our beautiful boy following the disaster in Beirut,” Isaac’s family said.

“Isaac was two and will be deeply missed by family and friends

“The family would like to thank everyone who has offered comfort and support to us, and would like to express our condolences to everyone in Lebanon who is suffering from this devastating tragedy.

“We request that the media respects our privacy at this difficult time.”

The young boy is understood to be the one known Australian victim who had been announced but not named by Prime Minister Scott Morrison after the disaster.

 Angry Lebanese demand reform

Thousands of demonstrators flood Martyrs’ Square. Photo: Getty

Simmering anger in Beirut has erupted into violent protest on the streets as Lebanese demand rapid reform following Tuesday’s shock explosion.

Police have fired tear gas, shots were heard and a police officer was killed during the clashes that left at least 238 injured.

Angry mobs stormed government buildings and the headquarters of the country’s banking association.

The protest Saturday was the first significant demonstration since the explosion and organisers planned to hold a symbolic funeral for the dead.

Thousands of people poured into Beirut’s main square and there were calls of “revenge” as symbolic nooses were set up in the square to hang politicians accused of corruption and negligence.

A Lebanese protester and soldiers at the headquarters of the Lebanese association of banks in downtown Beirut. Photo: Getty

As violence unfolded, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab proposed holding early elections as protesters stormed ministries.

“I will put forward a bill to hold early parliamentary elections on Monday,” Mr Diab said in a televised address.

“I call on all political parties to agree on the next stage … I am with [the] Lebanese aspiring for change.”

The huge blast at the Port of Beirut was caused by thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate improperly stored at the port for more than six years, apparently set off by a fire.

It was the biggest in Lebanon’s history and caused damaged estimated at $14-$21 billion, according to Beirut’s governor.

It also left hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

The explosion at the Port of Beirut was felt across the city. Photo: Getty

As the protest got under way small groups of young men began throwing stones at security forces.

Near parliament, riot police fired tear gas at protesters who hurled stones and tried to jump over barriers that closed the road leading to the parliament buildings.

The protesters later set fire to a lorry that was fortifying barriers on a road leading to parliament.

The gathering at Martyrs Square and outside the parliament building and government headquarters came amid popular anger against Lebanon’s political leadership.

Demonstrators clash with Lebanese riot police. Photo: Getty

The country’s ruling class, made up mostly of former civil war-era leaders, is blamed for widespread corruption, incompetence and mismanagement that contributed to Tuesday’s explosion.

The army issued a statement reminding the protesters to act peacefully and abstain from closing roads or attacking public or private property.

Police also issued a statement after the protests began urging people to act “in a civilised way far away from violence”.

A Lebanese man takes to the streets following the deaths in Beirut. Photo: Getty

-with AAP