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‘Urgent deployment’ of rescuers to Beirut — EU

By AFP - Aug 05,2020 - Last updated at Aug 05,2020

French Colonel Stanislas Rouqueyrol (left) delivers a speech to personnel of French Civil Security at Roissy Airport, near Paris, on Wednesday, as France sends three planes with search and rescue personnel and medical equipment to Beirut (AFP photo)

BRUSSELS — The European Union (EU) said on Wednesday it would rush rescuers, search dogs and equipment to Beirut to look for any survivors trapped in rubble after the massive blast that struck the city.

“The EU Civil Protection Mechanism is now coordinating the urgent deployment of over a 100 highly trained firefighters, with vehicles, dogs and equipment, specialised in search and rescue in urban contexts,” the European commission for crisis management, Janez Lenarcic, said in a statement.

“They will work with the Lebanese authorities to save lives on the ground.”

Lebanese authorities requested help under the mechanism after the port of Beirut was hit by twin explosions on Tuesday — the second one a blast that mushroomed out with the force of an earthquake.

Lenarcic said the Czech Republic, Greece and The Netherlands have already committed to the operation, while France, Germany and Poland were offering assistance. He called it “an immediate first step”.

“We stand with Lebanon and its people and are ready to mobilise further help,” he said.

The EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism, created in 2001, enables the European Union to coordinate aid efforts to respond to emergency situations around the world.

The blasts — blamed by the Lebanese prime minister on the storage of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, an agricultural fertiliser, in a portside warehouse — wreaked a terrible toll. 

More than 100 people were killed and more than 4,000 injured according to the Lebanese Red Cross. Beirut’s governor said 300,000 people have been left homeless and damage is estimated at up to $5 billion.

 

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