Last week’s Beirut blast destroyed the 160-year-old landmark Sursock Palace, one of the most storied buildings in the Lebanese capital which withstood two world wars, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the French mandate and Lebanese independence.
After the country's 1975-1990 civil war, it took 20 years of careful restoration for the family to bring the palace back to its former glory.
“In a split second, everything was destroyed again,” its owner Roderick Sursock says, reports AP.
He steps carefully over the collapsed ceilings, walking through rooms covered in dust, broken marble and crooked portraits of his ancestors hanging on the cracked walls. The ceilings of the top floor are all gone, and some of the walls have collapsed.
The level of destruction from the massive explosion at Beirut's port last week is 10 times worse than what 15 years of civil war did, Sursock says.
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Several heritage buildings, traditional Lebanese homes, museums and art galleries have also sustained various degrees of damage in the blast.
The Sursock palace, built in 1860 in the heart of historical Beirut on a hill overlooking the now-obliterated port, is home to beautiful works of arts, Ottoman-era furniture, marble and paintings from Italy — collected by three long-lasting generations of the family.
The Greek Orthodox family, originally from the Byzantine capital, Constantinople — now Istanbul — settled in Beirut in 1714.
The three-story mansion has been a landmark in Beirut. With its spacious garden, it's been the venue for countless weddings, cocktail parties and receptions over the years, and has been admired by tourists who visit the nearby Sursock museum.
More than 160 people were killed in the blast, around 6,000 were injured and thousands of residential buildings and offices were damaged in the blast.
The rumbling Mount Sinabung on Indonesia’s Sumatra island sent a column of volcanic materials as high as 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) into the sky on Monday.
There were no fatalities or injuries from the morning eruption, Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center said, reports AP.
Villagers have been advised to stay 5km from the crater’s mouth and be aware of the peril of lava, the agency said.
About 30,000 people have been forced to leave homes around the mountain in the past few years.
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A thick layer of ash covered several villages as far as 20 kilometers from the crater, said Armen Putra, an official at the Mount Sinabung observation post.
The volcano, one of two currently erupting in Indonesia, was dormant for four centuries before exploding in 2010, killing two people. Another eruption four years later killed 16 people, while seven died in a 2016 eruption.
Sinabung is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.
Kattar Demianos is the second Cabinet member to step down, reports AP.
Demianos said in a statement late Sunday that he's leaving the government in solidarity with the victims of Beirut blast.
The explosion killed 160 people and wounded 6,000. At least four Bangladeshis were killed at 21 members of Bangladesh Navy were injured in the blast.
He described the ruling system in Lebanon as “flaccid and sterile” and says it's wasted several chances to reform.
Demianos had offered his resignation earlier Sunday but was in talks with Prime Minister Hassan Diab.
People in Lebanon have blamed the explosion on negligence and mismanagement. Angry protests followed amid calls for government officials to resign.
Another Cabinet member stepped down earlier Sunday.
Read Also: Beirut Blast: Death toll climbs to 154
An Israeli jewelry company is making what it says the world's most expensive coronavirus mask, a gold, diamond-encrusted face covering with a price tag of $1.5 million, reports AP.
The 18-karat white gold mask will be decorated with 3,600 white and black diamonds and fitted with top-rated N99 filters at the request of the buyer, said designer Isaac Levy.
Levy, owner of the Yvel company, said the buyer had two other demands: that it be completed by the end of the year. It would be the priciest in the world.
That last condition, he said, “was the easiest to fulfill.”
Levy declined to identify the buyer, only saying that he was a Chinese businessman living in the US.
The glitzed-up face mask may lend some pizzazz to the protective gear now mandatory in public spaces in many countries. At 270 grams (over half a pound) — nearly 100 times that of a typical surgical mask — it is not likely to be a practical accessory to wear.
In an interview at his factory near Jerusalem, Levy showed off several pieces of the mask, covered in diamonds. One gold plate had a hole for the filter.
“Money maybe doesn’t buy everything, but if it can buy a very expensive COVID-19 mask and the guy wants to wear it and walk around and get the attention, he should be happy with that,” Levy said.
Such an ostentatious mask might also rub some the wrong way at a time when millions of people around the world are out of work or suffering economically. Levy said that while he would not wear it himself, he was thankful for the opportunity.
"I am happy that this mask gave us enough work for our employees to be able to provide their jobs in very challenging times like these times right now,” he said.
Hong Kong police have arrested media tycoon Jimmy Lai on Monday morning under the city’s national security law on suspicion of collusion with foreign powers, reports said.
“Jimmy Lai is being arrested for collusion with foreign powers at this time,” his aide Mark Simon wrote on Twitter, reports AP.
Hong Kong police said in a statement that seven people had been arrested on suspicion of violating the national security law, but did not reveal their names.
Lai, who owns popular tabloid Apple Daily, is an outspoken pro-democracy figure in Hong Kong and regularly criticises China’s authoritarian rule.
Simon said that police searched both Lai and his son’s home, as well as other members of media group Next Media, which Lai founded.