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Last Updated: Monday, 14 August 2006, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Calm as Mid-East ceasefire begins
A UN-brokered ceasefire has come into force between Israel and the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah. Our correspondents describe the atmosphere on either side of the Israeli-Lebanese border.


It is very quiet. I can hear the sea. People are starting to come out into the sunshine for the first time in a month.

There are a few people remaining in the area. They are looking relaxed and one or two others have started to return.

Cars cross the Litani River, north of Tyre, Lebanon
Cars began to head to south Lebanon within an hour of the ceasefire
We have been told that down on the main bridge over the Litani River, on the coastal road that links the south of Lebanon with the north, there is a big bottleneck of traffic apparently trying to come back into the area.

We have had no reports of any hostilities since the ceasefire came into effect at 0800 local time (0500 GMT).

The Unifil spokesman told me that the UN force in the area has had no reports of any hostile activities at all so far.

On the ground here, one has a feeling that confidence is growing.

People are starting to come out and assess the damage. In some places, bulldozers are even starting to clear some of the debris away.

In Tibnine, in the centre of town, there is a scene of devastation next to the hospital on the main road.

There are a dozen burnt-out vehicles from an Israeli artillery bombardment on Sunday, which caused a huge fire next to the hospital.

In one shattered building the body of a woman wrapped in plastic lay under a gilt chandelier

All the way along the road, up through the villages from Tyre, there are similar scenes of devastation.

One building is still burning and there are many smashed buildings along the way.

The roads have huge holes and craters in them. Many with cars that have driven into them at speed.

Further on in Bint Jbeil, the scene of heavy fighting in which nine Israeli soldiers were killed, [there is] a scene of utter devastation with few signs of life.

In one shattered building the body of a woman wrapped in plastic lay under a gilt chandelier. She had been there for two weeks.

It will be clearly some time before life returns to this desolate place - once a bustling market town for the whole region.


It is astonishingly quiet. We could hear a lot of birdsong this morning as well as the wind.

I think I also heard a lawnmower earlier.

Troops walking near the southern Lebanese village of Markabeh
Israel is keeping its troops inside Lebanon for now
It has been a very loud night. Israel fired artillery shells over the hills in front of me towards Lebanon.

Six minutes before the truce began, I heard three final booms, one after another, but from 0800 local time (0500 GMT) onwards I have heard nothing more.

Still, there is no great sense that the conflict has ended.

It is still very, very empty here.

Israelis are not yet willing to drive up from central Israel to check things out. They want to see how the ceasefire holds before they risk coming back to live in northern Israel.

For now, Israel's cannons still point in the direction of Lebanon and thousands of Israeli soldiers are still inside Lebanese territory.

Israel says they will only leave when a robust international force comes in to take over and that could take 10 days.

Plenty could go wrong before then.

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