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Beirut explosion live updates: Half of city affected by damage
An explosion ripped through the port in the Lebanese capital and up to 300,000 people are now homeless. Rescue teams are searching through the rubble for survivors.
·Massive blast destroys Beirut’s port
· Hospitals struggle to cope with the thousands of wounded
· Prime Minister says 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse caused the blasts
· The blast damage extends over half of the city
The EU has expressed its “shock and sadness” after the “deadly explosion” while pledging to send “over a 100 highly trained firefighters, with vehicles, dogs and equipment.”
The European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said: “We share the shock and sadness of the people of Beirut following the deadly explosion that has taken many lives and left many more injured. Our condolences go to all those that have lost loved ones.
“At this difficult time, the European Union offers its full support to the Lebanese people.”
The bloc is activating its civil protection system to round up emergency workers and equipment to help Beirut. The Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Poland and the Netherlands have already agreed to take part and the EU has called on others to join.
Gulf states including Qatar and Kuwait have dispatched aid to Lebanon. Kuwait’s ministry of health said aid arrived by military plane on Wednesday morning, and the Kuwaiti Red Crescent said it would offer whatever help Lebanon needed.
Meanwhile, Qatar’s state news agency QNA said the country had dispatched a first military plane carrying medical aid. Three more planes are expected to follow later in the day, containing two field hospitals of 500 beds each and equipped with respirators.
Turkey has also pledged to send aid. Its Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) is helping to search for survivors, digging through debris to look for people and recover bodies. “We are providing assistance with one ambulance to transfer patients,” said Mustafa Ozbek, an Istanbul-based IHH official. “We may provide help according to the needs of the hospital.”
Meanwhile neighboring Cyprus additionally offered to send medical aid and teams to Lebanon. “Cyprus is ready to accept injured persons for treatment and send medical teams if required,” Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides told state broadcaster CyBC.
Christodoulides added that the Cypriot embassy in Beirut, which was closed at the time of the blast, was extensively damaged. The explosion was heard throughout Cyprus, which is located around 100 miles (160 kilometers) away from Lebanon.
Iraq is set to send six trucks of urgent medical supplies and an emergency medical team, according to the country’s health ministry spokesman. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi also offered his condolences, according to a statement from his office.
Lebanon’s main grain silo at the port was demolished in the explosion along with the wheat inside, leaving the beleaguered country with less than a month’s reserves of the grain, the economy minister said.
Raoul Nehme said that Lebanon needed reserves for at least three months to maintain food security. However, after the blast there are only enough reserves for “a bit less than a month” for a nation of more than six million people.
The explosion was the most powerful ever to rip through Beirut, leaving the harbor a wreck, disabling the main entry port for imports to feed the country.
Germany has announced it is sending an urban rescue team to Beirut. The Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) will help with efforts to “search and recover” people from the wreckage, a spokesman said after a meeting of the German government’s crisis unit.
The team will consist of 47 people and could leave as early as today, the spokesman added. It will “support the crisis management of the embassy” with deliveries and services.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has contacted his Lebanese counterpart, the spokesman added.
The Netherlands, Czech Republic and Russia are all sending in rescue teams to help in treating the wounded, as well as aid the search for survivors among the rubble.
Dutch authorities said 67 aid workers were heading for Beirut, including doctors, police officers and firefighters.
The Czech Republic’s team, which is also en route, includes a unit of the fire brigade which is specialized in rescuing people buried after such explosions. The unit includes five search dogs with their handlers and 30 additional staff.
Meanwhile, emergency medical aid from Kuwait has arrived in Beirut.
Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab has called on “friendly countries” to help a country already reeling from its worst economic crisis in decades and the coronavirus pandemic.
Qatar announced it would send field hospitals to ease the pressure on Lebanon’s buckling medical system.
International reactions and offers of help are pouring in, including offers from Israel. Read more here: Beirut blast: Condolences and aid pour in for Lebanon after deadly explosion
10:02 Up to 300,000 people are homeless according to Beirut governor Marwan Abboud. He also added that more than $3 billion (€2.53 billion) worth of damage has been caused and that over half of the city has been affected.