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News Wrap: Tropical Storm Isaias pummels East Coast

In our news wrap Tuesday, Tropical Storm Isaias sped up the East Coast of the U.S., leaving a trail of damage. The storm was downgraded after coming ashore as a hurricane in North Carolina but spun off a deadly tornado and caused flash flooding. Also, firefighters in Southern California spent another day battling a wildfire east of Los Angeles. Authorities said it was originally sparked by a car.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: A monstrous explosion shook Beirut, Lebanon, and shattered much of the city's port.

    The health minister reported that at least 70 dead and more than 3, 000 injured. Video showed an enormous blast and shockwave that damaged buildings miles away. Officials said that 2, 700 tons of ammonium nitrate blew up.

    Special correspondent Rebecca Collard is in Beirut. She spoke with us a short while ago.

    Rebecca, thank you so much for talking with us.

    So, what exactly is known about what happened?

  • Rebecca Collard:

    Well, actually, Judy, a lot is still not known about what happened today.

    The initial report said that this was some sort of a fireworks cache that was being held in a port that caught fire. But I can tell you, where I am now — and I'm very close to my apartment — we're miles from the blast site, and even here, you can see we have almost no electricity.

    Many of the buildings here that are even more than a dozen stories high have the top windows blown out. The walls are off of things. There is glass all over the street.

    So, the most recent thing that we have heard now is that there was some sort of chemical being that was held in that facility. And that chemical caught fire. And because of that, we saw this massive explosion, and we're really talking, if you look at these photos, this video of the explosion, a massive explosion, then, afterwards, this huge plume of smoke coming from this area in Beirut's port.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And as you describe, massive aftereffect, loss of life, so many injuries, we're hearing.

  • Rebecca Collard:

    Yes.

    The toll now, the official toll from the Lebanese government, the latest we're hearing is over 60 and over 3, 000 people injured. But I can tell you, even where I am now, to this point, hours and hours after this blast took place, I'm still hearing ambulances ferrying people to hospitals.

    We have heard that a lot of the hospitals here in Beirut are basically overwhelmed with the numbers of injuries that are coming in. And, unfortunately, Judy, I think that, over tonight and into tomorrow, we're only going to see the number of dead and the number of injured rise really significantly.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Such a terrible incident.

    Rebecca Collard reporting for us from Beirut, thank you so much.

  • Rebecca Collard:

    You're welcome.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And in this country, Tropical Storm Isaias sped up the I-95 Corridor along the East Coast today, leaving a trail of damage. The storm was downgraded after coming ashore as a hurricane in North Carolina overnight and heading north.

    Along the way, it spun off a tornado in Windsor, North Carolina, that demolished mobile homes, flipped cars and killed two people.

    And heavy rain triggered flash flooding in suburban Philadelphia and elsewhere. The storm also knocked out power to nearly three million customers.

    Firefighters in Southern California have spent another day battling a wildfire east of Los Angeles. It's been burning largely out of control in the mountains, but thousands of people have had to leave their homes. Investigators say that a sputtering diesel vehicle sparked the initial flames.

    The U.N. secretary-general warned today of what he called a generational catastrophe in education caused by the pandemic. In a video message, Antonio Guterres said that school closures have disrupted learning for at least a billion students across 160 nations. He said getting kids back into classrooms safely has to be a top priority.

  • Antonio Guterres:

    We are at a defining moment for the world's children and young people. The decisions that governments and partners take now will have lasting impact on hundreds of millions of young people and on the development prospects of countries for decades to come.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Guterres said that minority children, the displaced and others in crisis are at greatest risk of being left behind.

    Back in this country, five states held primary elections today, with voting by mail playing a big role. In Kansas, Congressman Roger Marshall and the former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach vied for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.

    In St. Louis, Democratic Representative Lacy Clay faced a challenge from progressive Cori Bush. And in Detroit, Democrat Rashida Tlaib, a leading progressive in Congress, was in a rematch with Brenda Jones, the City Council president.

    President Trump has signed a bill that will pump nearly $3 billion a year into conservation, national parks and outdoor recreation. The great American Outdoors Act became law at a White House ceremony today. It's touted as the most important conservation measure in nearly 50 years. Critics say it doesn't begin to cover the $20 billion backlog in maintenance of federal lands.

    And on Wall Street, major indexes managed modest gains, and have now made up nearly all of their losses from the pandemic sell-off. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 164 points to close at 26828. The Nasdaq rose 38 points, and the S&P 500 added nearly 12.

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