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'Urgent deployment' of rescuers to Beirut: EU

  • News Desk

    Agence France-Presse

Brussels, Belgium   /   Thu, August 6, 2020   /   07:15 am
'Urgent deployment' of rescuers to Beirut: EU A Lebanese army soldier runs at the scene of an explosion at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut on Tuesday.The European Union said 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. (AFP/Str)

The European Union said 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, specialized 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 mobilize 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 toes of ammonium nitrate, an agricultural fertilizer, 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.