World leaders rally to Beirut's aid after blasts kill at least 73 and injure 4,000
Offers of support and medical aid flooded into Lebanon on Wednesday after 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded in northern Beirut killing at least 73 people and injuring nearly 4,000.
The two blasts happened in a warehouse in the port area of the city. Medical services said that with so many badly injured survivors, the death toll was likely to rise.
"It is unacceptable that a shipment of 2,750 tonnes has been present for six years in a warehouse, without taking preventive measures," said Lebanon’s prime minister Hassan Diab at a defence council meeting.
Diab vowed to bring those responsible for the storage of the chemicals to justice during a televised address to the nation.
Worldwide reaction to the explosions was swift. Gulf nations such as Qatar and Kuwait promised to send medical supplies to Beirut. Leaders of the United Arab Emirates and Dubai sent their condolences to Diab.
Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, echoed their sentiments on Twitter: “I’d like to extend my deepest condolences to all those affected by the massive explosion at the port of Beirut," said Pompeo.
I’d like to extend my deepest condolences to all those affected by the massive explosion at the port of Beirut on August 4. We are monitoring and stand ready to assist the people of Lebanon as they recover from this horrible tragedy.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) August 4, 2020
Israel - technically still at war with Lebanon - proffered medical and humanitarian aid.
Defence minister, Benny Gantz, and the foreign minister, Gabi Ashkenaz, said the emergency assitance would be via international intermediaries.
Jordan's foreign minister Ayman Safadi said his country was ready to provide any help Lebanon needed while Iran also offered assistance.
France was among the first European nations to respond to Diab’s appeal for help. French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, tweeted that his government was ready to assist.
President Emmanuel Macron said his thoughts were with the Lebanese people.
J’exprime ma solidarité fraternelle avec les Libanais après l’explosion qui a fait tant de victimes et de dégâts ce soir à Beyrouth. La France se tient aux côtés du Liban. Toujours. Des secours et moyens français sont en cours d’acheminement sur place.— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 4, 2020
Macron's Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, added: "Russia shares the grief of the Lebanese people.”
Britain's prime minister, Boris Johnson, said he was shocked by video images emerging in the aftermath of the blast.
"All of my thoughts and prayers are with those caught up in this terrible incident," he wrote on Twitter. "The UK is ready to provide support in any way we can, including to those British nationals affected.”
While the politicians pledged aid, emergency services continued to look for victims and survivors and tackle the blaze.
Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, also wrote on social media. “We think of all those who were injured in this tragic explosion as well as those who are trying to find a friend or family member or who have lost a loved one. We're ready to help you."
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