Beirut Port Blast: World Responds to Lebanon’s Plight

Agencies Reuters07.08.2020 Lebanon
Beirut Port Blast: World Responds to Lebanon’s Plight

Beirut Port Blast: World Responds to Lebanon’s Plight

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A massive explosion rocked Beirut on Tuesday, flattening much of the city’s port, damaging buildings across the capital and sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky.

The blast struck with the force of a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, according to Germany’s geosciences center GFZ, and it was heard and felt as far away as Cyprus more than 200 kilometers (180 miles) across the Mediterranean.

Up to a quarter of a million people were left without homes fit to live in, officials said, after shockwaves smashed building facades, sucked furniture out into streets and shattered windows miles inland.

The sudden devastation overwhelmed a country already struggling with both the coronavirus pandemic and an economic crisis. 

Most, if not all Arab countries, and many friendly countries expressed their readiness to provide immediate rescue and medical assistance to Lebanon.

The death toll (137 dead and 5,000 injured as of Thursday) is expected to rise from the blast, which officials blamed on a huge stockpile of highly explosive material stored for years in unsafe conditions at the port.

The sudden devastation overwhelmed a country already struggling with both the coronavirus pandemic and an economic crisis. 

Arab and friendly countries, as well as world organizations, offered their sympathy and readiness to help Lebanon overcome this crisis.

The World Bank Group said on Wednesday it would work with Lebanon’s partners to mobilize public and private financing for reconstruction and recovery. It was unclear what effect the disaster would have on the country’s difficult negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, however.

Two French planes arrived on Thursday with specialist rescue personnel and equipment. President Emmanuel Macron also arrived to Beirut Thursday, just two days after the blast.

The French President is scheduled to meet “all political actors” including President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab, The Elysée Palace said.

Macron seeks to rally urgent aid for Lebanon but is also expected to press for overdue reform in France’s ex-colony.

“For the President, it’s a matter of showing that France is there -- this is its role -- and that he believes in Lebanon,” the Presidential Palace said.

Gulf Arab states, who in the past were major financial supporters of Lebanon but recently stepped back because of what they say is Iranian meddling, sent planes with medical equipment and other supplies.

Other Arab states (Jordan, Iraq, Sudan, Egypt) to name a few, also offered their help.

Turkey said it would send 20 doctors to help treat the injured, as well as medical and relief assistance. Iraq pledged fuel aid, while Iran offered food and a field hospital.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted: “We sympathize with the dear Lebanese citizens and stand by them in the painful tragedy of the Beirut port explosion ... Patience in the face of this incident will be a golden leaf of honor for Lebanon.”

The United States, Britain and other Western nations, which have been demanding political and economic change in Lebanon, also offered aid. Germany, the Netherlands and Cyprus offered specialized search and rescue teams. 

 
 



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