Turkey sends aid to Lebanon amid deadly blast
Hazal Özcan – ANKARA
A view shows the aftermath of Aug. 4's blast at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut, on Aug. 5, 2020. (AFP Photo)
The Turkish government is preparing to send aid to Lebanon after a blast that claimed at least 135 lives in the country, as Ankara’s ambassador to Beirut stressed Turkey’s solidarity with Lebanon amid the disaster.
“As the Republic of Turkey, we will continue to stand by the brotherly Lebanese public,” Ambassador Hakan Çakıl told Hürriyet Daily News.
Çakıl said that the Turkish government is taking steps to send aid to Lebanon, after the deadly explosion devastated the country’s capital.
When asked about the possibility of the blast being an attack on Beirut, the envoy said that it was caused by a fire.
“We do not know if the fire was started intentionally, or if it was because of negligence,” he said.
In a statement issued on Aug. 5, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry announced that the country is preparing medical aid to send to Lebanon.
Plans to establish a field hospital in Lebanon are ongoing, the ministry said, and equipment for humanitarian aid, including medicines, are being sent.
Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) chairman Kerem Kınık said that the team of four health care personnel, including an emergency physician, and medical supplies will be sent on Aug. 5. Kınık said Kızılay is prepared to send more aid to Lebanon if need be.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that five Turkish citizens have been minorly injured while one is recovering from surgery.
Erdoğan spoke with his Lebanese counterpart Michel Aoun and offered his condolences while voicing solidarity with the country.
According to a statement by the Communications Directorate, Erdoğan told Aoun that Turkey is ready to send all kinds of humanitarian support to Lebanon at any time.
Meanwhile, Çavuşoğlu also spoke with Lebanon’s top diplomat Charbel Wehbe on Aug. 4 and Aug. 5, after the explosion.
Çavuşoğlu offered his condolences to the deceased and their relatives and wished a speedy recovery to the injured. The minister also stressed Ankara’s solidarity with Beirut over the phone call on Aug. 4 yet the details of the conversation on Aug. 5 were not disclosed.
Çavuşoğlu also held a phone conversation with his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio on Aug.5, discussing Libya, the eastern Mediterranean and European Union.
Search and rescue efforts to find survivors were still ongoing on Aug.5. Officials said the toll was expected to rise after the blast at port warehouses that stored highly explosive material.
Aoun said 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilizers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures. He called it “unacceptable.”
The intensity of the blast threw victims into the sea and rescue teams were still trying to recover bodies. Many of those killed were port and custom employees and people working in the area or driving through during rush hour.
Facades of central Beirut buildings were ripped off, furniture was sucked into streets and roads were strewn with glass and debris. Cars near the port were flipped over.
Many countries have offered a helping hand to Beirut for the aftermath of the explosion.