In the wake of tensions with Hezbollah, Israel denies any involvement in the explosion. The Arab League wants to know what caused the blast. The UN offers help to cope with the "horrific tragedy”. US President Trump does not rule out an attack. Iran pledges help "in any way necessary”.
Beirut (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The international community is mobilising for Lebanon, following the explosions that devastated the capital Beirut yesterday evening, killing more than a hundred people and injuring at least 4,000.
Many governments have pledged assistance to help Lebanon cope with huge damages, which come on top of an ongoing emergency situation caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Among the first countries to react, Israel pledged assistance whilst denying any role in the blasts. Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said his country played no role in the explosion, which he said was likely “an accident caused by a fire.”
In the hours that preceded the tragedy, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had made serious threats against Hezbollah. Recently, tensions have been running high between the Jewish state and the Shia movement.
UN special coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis, offered humanitarian aid on behalf of the United Nations to face the “horrific tragedy”.
Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit stressed “the importance of finding the truth about the explosions"; otherwise, the event will just worsen the country’s difficulties and aggravate its crisis.
Last night, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his "fraternal solidarity with the Lebanese” people affected by the tragedy. “France,” he tweeted, “stands alongside Lebanon”. Mr Macron also pledged “French aid and resources” to help rescue operations.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo extended his “deepest condolences to all those affected by the massive explosion,” which, according to President Donald Trump looked like “an attack" (a possibility excluded by experts, who are inclined to consider it an accident).
“We are closely monitoring and stand ready to assist the people of Lebanon as they recover from this tragedy,” he said in a statement.
In Russia, President Vladimir Putin noted that "Russia shares the grief of the Lebanese people” in a message of condolences to Lebanese President Michel Aoun.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, “we stand ready to assist in any way we can.”
The “pictures and videos from Beirut tonight are shocking,” said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “All of my thoughts and prayers are with those caught up in this terrible incident,” he added, noting that “The UK is ready to provide any support in any way we can”.
Qatar Emir Tamim ben Hamad al-Thani announces the shipment of field hospitals to Lebanon to help treat the wounded.
The United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted that “our hearts are with Beirut and its people.”
He posted an image of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, illuminated in the colours of the Lebanese flag.
“Our prayers during these difficult hours are that God... protects brotherly Lebanon and the Lebanese to reduce their affliction and heal their wounds,” he wrote.
Kuwait has announced that it was sending emergency medical supplies, whilst Saudi Arabia expressed its “full support [to] and solidarity” with the Lebanese people.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that his government would provide Lebanon and its “resilient people" all possible help. “As always, Iran is fully prepared to render assistance in any way necessary,” he added.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan mentioned “our Lebanese brothers", whilst Iraqi President Barham Saleh announced that his country was sending help.