Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 September 2020

Britain announces £5 million in aid for Beirut

UK offers to send search and rescue teams and medical experts to assist relief effort after massive blasts

The UK on Wednesday announced a package of emergency relief for Lebanon following the twin explosions at Beirut Port the day before, which killed at least 135 people and injured thousands more.

Britain has offered to send over expert search and rescue teams with specially trained dogs to help find those trapped under rubble and debris. It also pledged up to £5 million in emergency humanitarian funding to help people made homeless by the disaster, following a call between Hassan Diab, Prime Minister of Lebanon and Britain's foreign minister Dominic Raab.

The UK has also offered enhanced support to the Lebanese Armed Forces, including tailored medical help, strategic air transport assistance, and engineering and communications support.

Britain has also offered to send International Emergency Medical Teams (EMT) who could provide initial assessment and coordination with search and rescue teams.

EMT offer a rapid provision of internationally accredited public health, medical and surgical teams including experts from the UK's National Health Service (NHS) and its private medical sector.

“This was a devastating explosion which has caused enormous suffering and damage. The UK is a long-standing friend of Lebanon and the Lebanese people, and will stand with them in their hour of need,” Mr Raab said.

International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said that the world had been “shocked by the scenes of devastation and suffering” in Beirut.

“My heart goes out to all those who have been affected by this tragedy and who have lost loved ones,” Ms Trevelyan said. “The UK stands ready to support the people of Lebanon in their time of need and has offered to send medics and rescue workers to treat those who have been injured.”

The blast measured 4.5 on the Richter scale and was felt as far away as Cyprus, some 240 kilometres from Beirut.

Before the incident, Lebanon was already experiencing a major economic crisis and dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, as well as hosting over 1.5 million refugees from the war in neighbouring Syria.

Nearly half of the city was damaged by the largest explosion, which Lebanon’s government blamed on 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive fertiliser, stored in an unsecured warehouse in the port.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab has said he will determine within five days the exact cause of the explosions and “who was responsible”.

Countries around the world have voiced their support and pledged to send aid to help repair damage estimated at between $3 billion and $5bn (Dh11bn-Dh18.4bn).

Updated: August 5, 2020 10:44 PM

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