Beirut Airport to stay closed for 48 hours | india | Hindustan Times
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Beirut Airport to stay closed for 48 hours

india Updated: Jul 13, 2006 15:31 IST
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Lebanon said on Thursday its only international airport will remain shut for at least 48 hours after it was bombarded in Israeli air strikes in retaliation for the killing and capture of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah guerrillas.

"The airport will be partly operational within 48 hours, but reopening the airport is a political decision that will be decided by the cabinet," Transport Minister Mohamad Safadi told reporters.

"The runways have all been hit, although some less than others," he said.

The newly refurbished Beirut airport, named after slain former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, was hit in a series of raids by Israel that left a total of 28 civilians dead, as well as a Hezbollah militant.

A police officer said there were no casualties when missiles fired from fighter jets hit the runways before dawn, leaving large craters in the tarmac.

Lebanese anti-aircraft batteries frantically fired at the invading planes and the airport was shut, forcing flights to be diverted to the nearby Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

"The closure of the airport has inflicted losses of five million dollars only for today. This does not include damages, which will be determined later," an airport official said.

Police said 28 Lebanese civilians, including 10 children, were killed in attacks early Thursday in Hezbollah targets in Beirut's southern suburbs and across southern Lebanon.

Israel launched the military offensive after the capture of two Israeli soldiers by the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement and the killing of another eight.