Well wishes and promises of assistance are flooding in after the deadly explosion in Lebanon. France said it had already dispatched aid, Germany said embassy staff were among the injured, and Trump hinted at foul play.
Condolences poured in from across the world for Lebanon, after its capital, Beirut, was rocked by a massive explosion that killed at least 100 and injured over 4,000 others others on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab called on “friendly countries” to support a country already facing its worst economic turmoil in years amid the coronavirus pandemic.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his “deepest condolences … following the horrific explosions in Beirut,” adding that United Nations staff were among the injured.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also offered to send medical aid and to treat the injured. “Iran announces its readiness to send medical aid to Lebanon and also offers treatment of the injured and other necessary medical assistance,” Rouhani said.
“We hope that the circumstances of this incident will be determined as soon as possible and that peace will return to Beirut.”
Iran-backed Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah said it did not believe Israeli rocket attacks were behind the blast, while the Israeli military also denied involvement in the explosion. Lebanese Prime Minister Diab later said that the second, larger explosion had been caused by a large stockpile of ammonium nitrate — a volatile chemical with many uses ranging from agricultural fertilizer to bomb-making.
Too early’ to speculate
US President Donald Trump offered his condolences and said the US stood ready to assist Lebanon, but he also indicated that his generals “seem to feel” the massive explosion was a “terrible attack” of some kind.
“It would seem like it based on the explosion. I met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel it was,” Trump claimed. “This was not a … some kind of a manufacturing explosion type of a event. … They seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind, yes.”
Trump’s comments were issued at a similar time to Lebanese updates on the large stockpile of ammonium nitrate, potentially explaining the apparent contradiction.
International pledges for aid
France’s President, Emmanuel Macron, issued tweets in French and then in Arabic. “I express my brotherly solidarity with the Lebanese people after the explosion,” Macron said, adding that French aid and resources had already been dispatched towards Beirut.
France is expected to send two planes with dozens of emergency workers, a mobile medical unit and 15 tons of aid material to Beirut. Macron’s office said the aid should allow for the treatment of around 500 victims.
Additionally, French peacekeepers stationed in Lebanon have been helping in the aftermath of the blast.
European Council President Charles Michel said the EU “stands ready to provide assistance and support.”