Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 September 2020

Beirut explosion: offers of help pour in from international community

UAE leaders wish 'patience and solace' for people of Lebanon

Leaders from around the world have offered Lebanon assistance after a huge explosion that tore through the Beirut port on Tuesday, killing at least 70 people.

The explosion wounded thousands more and caused enormous damage, in yet another blow to a nation reeling from financial meltdown and a surge in coronavirus cases.

Officials said the explosion occurred because of poor storage of sodium nitrate, which should have been removed years ago.

But President Donald Trump said in Washington that US military officials think the explosion in Beirut could have been a bomb.

UAE officials paid tribute to the Lebanese people and offered solace and strength.

The Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, posted a photograph of the Lebanese flag, accompanied by a message of support.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, tweeted on Tuesday evening: "Our thoughts and prayers are with our Lebanese brothers and sisters during these trying times."

"We pray that God grants you patience and solace. God bless Lebanon and the Lebanese people."

Gulf countries including the UAE maintain close ties with Beirut and have long provided financial aid and diplomatic assistance to mediate between Lebanon’s political and sectarian divisions.

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, also tweeted that “our hearts are with Beirut and its people”.

Dr Gargash posted the tribute alongside an image of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, illuminated in the colours of the Lebanese flag.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry affirmed "the kingdom's full support and solidarity with the brotherly Lebanese people", Saudi state news agency Spa reported.

France, which exerted the most effort to try to help Lebanon before its economy collapsed in October, said it was “on the side” of its former colonial territory.

"France is always on the side of Lebanon and the Lebanese people," Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

"It is ready to offer assistance depending on the needs expressed by Lebanese authorities."

Israel, which last fought a war in Lebanon with Hezbollah in 2006, offered Beirut "medical humanitarian aid", the Israeli Defence Ministry said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said: “As always, Iran is fully prepared to render assistance in any way necessary.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the great and resilient people of Lebanon. Stay strong, Lebanon."

“I've met with some of our great generals and they seem to feel that it was an attack," President Trump said.

"They would know better than I would. They seem to think it was an attack it was a bomb of some kind, yes."

The US has been working with France in the last pew months on a humanitarian plan to help the people of Lebanon overcome basic food shortages due to the economic crisis.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain stood ready to provide any support it could to help Beirut after the explosion.

“The pictures and videos from Beirut tonight are shocking," Mr Johnson said.

“The UK is ready to provide support in any way we can, including to those British nationals affected.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia “shares the grief of the Lebanese people".

“Please convey the words of sympathy and support to the families of those killed and wishes of the soonest recovery to those injured," he said in a message to Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

Updated: August 5, 2020 05:12 AM

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