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Wednesday, 23 September 2020

World offers support, condolences to Lebanon after devastating blasts

AFP , Wednesday 5 Aug 2020
Beirut
A picture shows destruction at Beirut port on August 5, 2020 in the aftermath of a massive explosion in the Lebanese capital. (Photo: AFP)
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Emergency medical aid and pop-up field hospitals were dispatched to Lebanon on Wednesday, as the world offered assistance and paid tribute to the victims of the huge explosion that devastated Beirut.
 
The blast centred on the city's port caused massive destruction and killed more than 100 people, heaping misery on a country already in crisis.
 
Emergency medical aid from Kuwait arrived in the Lebanese capital on Wednesday morning, as the Lebanese Red Cross said that more than 4,000 people were being treated for injuries after the explosion which sent glass shards and debris flying.
 
Lebanon's Prime Minister Hassan Diab has called on "friendly countries" to support a nation already reeling from its worst economic crisis in decades as well as the coronavirus pandemic.
 
Gulf states were among the first to respond, with Qatar announcing it would send field hospitals to ease pressure on Lebanon's strained medical system.
 
Crews at Doha's Al-Udeid airbase loaded hundreds of collapsible beds, generators and burn sheets onto an air force cargo plane, one of four due to fly from the Gulf to the Mediterranean on Wednesday.
 
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said in a message to his Lebanese counterpart that Tehran was "ready to offer medical and medicinal aid and help treat the injured". Jordan's King Abdullah II also promised to dispatch a field hospital.
 
"The field hospital will include specialists and medical staff, to contribute in offering medical services and treatment to support our brothers in Lebanon," Jordanian state television said in a report.
 
Dutch authorities announced that 67 aid workers were headed for Beirut, including doctors, police officers and firefighters.
 
'Stay strong, Lebanon'
Close allies and traditional adversaries of Lebanon alike sent their condolences, with Iran and Saudi Arabia -- long rivals for influence over the country -- both sending messages of support.
 
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the great and resilient people of Lebanon," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.
 
"Stay strong, Lebanon."
 
Saudi Arabia said it was following the situation with "great concern".
 
Unusually, neighbouring Israel offered humanitarian aid -- to a country with which it is still technically at war.
 
"Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, on behalf of the State of Israel, have offered the Lebanese government -- via international intermediaries -- medical and humanitarian aid, as well as immediate emergency assistance," a statement said.
 
UN chief Antonio Guterres expressed his "deepest condolences ... following the horrific explosions in Beirut" which he said had also injured some United Nations personnel.
 
US President Donald Trump said "it looks like a terrible attack" and that US generals had told him that the powerful explosions appeared to have been caused by a "bomb of some kind", without offering evidence.
 
Qatar's emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani wished "a speedy recovery for the injured," while the United Arab Emirates' vice president and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, tweeted "our condolences to our beloved people in Lebanon".
 
Egypt expressed "deep concern" at the destruction, and Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit offered condolences, stressing "the importance of finding the truth about the explosions".
 
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad wrote to his Lebanese counterpart Michel Aoun that "on behalf of the Syrian Arab people, we extend our sincere condolences to you and the Lebanese people".
 
Outside the region, President Vladimir Putin said that "Russia shares the grief of the Lebanese people", according to a Kremlin statement.
 
"I ask you to convey words of sympathy and support to the families and friends of the victims, as well as wishes for a speedy recovery to all affected."
 
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the pictures and videos from Beirut "shocking".
 
French President Emmanuel Macron said in a tweet in Arabic that "France is at the side of Lebanon. Always."
 
His office said two military planes would take off for Lebanon later Wednesday with search and rescue experts, 15 tonnes of sanitary equipment and a mobile clinic.
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