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‘Solidarity’ From Around the World As Beirut Reels After Disaster Leaves 300,000 Displaced, 100 Dead, Over 4,000 Injured

"Really heartbreaking to watch what happened in Beirut. Thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this devastating explosion."

As the devastation from Tuesday’s massive explosion became clearer Wednesday, people around the world expressed solidarity with Beirut as it faces crises of hunger, homelessness, and injury from the destructive blast that leveled the port area of the Lebanese city.

“They say the blast in Beirut was felt in all of Lebanon and even across the water in Cyprus—we certainly felt it in our hearts here in Michigan’s 13th District,” tweeted Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). 

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) also expressed sympathies on Twitter, sending the city her “deepest condolences and solidarity.”

“Beirut is one of my favorite cities in this world. And the Lebanese people are some of the best I’ve ever met,” said journalist Karen Attiah. “They deserve so much more than all of this.”

Journalist Rania Khalek, who lives in the city, tweeted that the level of destruction was incomprehensible.

“There are no words to describe the scope of destruction in Beirut,” said Khalek.

“This was an entire city destroyed in a few minutes,” she added. “The suffering and misery is unfathomable.”

At least 100 people died from the blast and over 4,000 were wounded. Over 300,000 are homeless. 

Aid efforts are underway, with Lebanon’s neighbors and nearby countries from Turkey to Israel to Iran all pledging assistance. Russia, the U.K., the U.S., and France all sent condolences and offered to help in the recovery. 

Advocacy groups are calling for a concerted, international effort to aid the city in the wake of the explosion. 

On the ground, aid groups and medical professionals are doing all they can to find survivors and care for the wounded.

As the New York Times reported:

The Lebanese Red Cross raced to set up temporary shelters with food, hygiene kits and basic needs to house up to 1,000 families who lost their homes, although that will only be enough to help a small fraction of the estimated 300,000 people who were displaced by the blast.

The blast shook the city Tuesday after 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material that was impounded by authorities in 2014, reportedly exploded.

Questions around why the deadly chemical was left to languish in the port for six years abounded Wednesday as the Lebanese government sought answers and put a number of officials under house arrest while an investigation got underway. 

According to the Associated Press:

An official letter surfaced online showing that the head of the customs department had warned repeatedly over the years that a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate stored in a hangar in the port was a danger and asked for a way to remove it.

Ammonium nitrate is a component of fertilizer that is potentially explosive. The 2,750-ton cargo had been stored at the port since it was confiscated from a ship in 2013, and on Tuesday it is believed to have detonated after a fire broke out nearby.

Beirut residents blamed what they described as a corrupt, careless government for the explosion. 

“They are so irresponsible that they ended up destroying Beirut,” a schoolteacher named Sana told AP

Images and video from Beirut showed the devastation in the Lebanese city.

“The scale of the destruction by any standard is more than an earthquake,” former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told The National.

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Common Dreams

This article is republished from Common Dreams under a Creative Commons 3.0 license.