Security

Emergency aid heads to Lebanon as world offers support

By AFP

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Workers load a plane as Qatar begins sending field hospitals and medical aid to Lebanon from al-Udeid airbase on August 5th on the outskirts of Doha. [Karim Jaafar/AFP]

Emergency medical aid and pop-up field hospitals were dispatched to Lebanon Wednesday (August 5th) along with rescue experts and tracking dogs, as the world reached out to the victims of the explosion that devastated Beirut.

The blast centered on the city's port caused massive destruction and killed more than 100 people, heaping misery on a country already in crisis.

Medical supplies from Kuwait arrived in Beirut on Wednesday, 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 (COVID-19) pandemic.

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An emergency command vehicle of the Lebanese Red Cross is pictured on Wednesday (August 5th) in the aftermath of the Tuesday blast that tore through Lebanon's capital. [Anwar Amro/AFP]

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A wounded man is evacuated from a ship following an explosion at the port of Beirut on August 4th. [AFP]

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 country on Wednesday.

Jordan's King Abdullah II promised to dispatch a field hospital.

As emergency crews hauled survivors from the rubble of demolished buildings, France said it was sending search and rescue experts aboard military planes loaded with tonnes of sanitary equipment and a mobile clinic.

French President Emmanuel Macron is to travel to Lebanon on Thursday, to "meet all political actors" following the catastrophe, his office said.

"France is at the side of Lebanon. Always," Macron tweeted in Arabic earlier.

Cyprus also said it was sending eight police tracking dogs and their handlers aboard two helicopters, to help in the search for victims.

The EU said Wednesday it would rush rescuers, search dogs and equipment to Beirut to look for any survivors trapped in rubble.

"The EU Civil Protection Mechanism is now co-ordinating the urgent deployment of over a 100 highly trained firefighters, with vehicles, dogs and equipment, specialised in search and rescue in urban contexts," the European commission for crisis management, Janez Lenarcic, said in a statement.

"They will work with the Lebanese authorities to save lives on the ground."

As part of this effort, Dutch authorities said they were sending 67 aid workers, including doctors, police officers and firefighters, and the Czech Republic sent 36 rescuers including dog handlers trained to seek out those trapped in ruins.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday offered US assistance.

"We are monitoring and stand ready to assist the people of Lebanon as they recover from this horrible tragedy," Pompeo wrote on Twitter.

Pompeo in an accompanying statement said the US will wait for the findings of Lebanese authorities on the cause of the explosions.

"Our team in Beirut has reported to me the extensive damage to a city and a people that I hold dear, an additional challenge in a time of already deep crisis," said Pompeo, who has spoken in the past of his personal interest in Lebanon.

Messages of support

Close allies and traditional adversaries of Lebanon alike sent their condolences, with Iran and Saudi Arabia both sending messages of support.

Saudi Arabia said it was following the situation with "great concern".

Israel offered humanitarian aid via international intermediaries.

UN chief Antonio Guterres expressed his "deepest condolences... following the horrific explosions in Beirut" which he said had also injured some UN personnel.

Qatar's emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani wished "a speedy recovery for the injured", while UAE vice president and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum sent "our condolences to our beloved people in Lebanon".

Egypt expressed "deep concern" at the destruction, and Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit offered condolences, stressing "the importance of finding the truth about the explosions".

Outside the region, President Vladimir Putin said that "Russia shares the grief of the Lebanese people", according to a Kremlin statement.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the images from Beirut "shocking".

Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims and their families so that they might "face this extremely tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing".

The explosions in Beirut on Tuesday wounded staff at the German embassy, the German foreign ministry said. Chancellor Angela Merkel said through her spokeswoman that she was shocked by the event and promised aid for Lebanon.

An Australian was killed and the country's embassy damaged in massive explosions that devastated Beirut's port on Tuesday, Canberra said.

Australia's embassy was "considerably damaged by the effects of the blast" and some staff had been injured, Foreign Minister Marise Payne told ABC radio.

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Why haven't you mentioned Iraq's assistance to you, o, traitors?

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