US Stands Ready to Assist Lebanon, Says Trump

Published August 5th, 2020 - 06:46 GMT
A wounded man walks at the port near the scene of an explosion in the Lebanese capital Beirut on August 4, 2020. Two huge explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut, wounding dozens of people, shaking buildings and sending huge plumes of smoke billowing into the sky. Lebanese media carried images of people trapped under rubble, some bloodied, after the massive explosions, the cause of which was not immediately known.  ANWAR AMRO / AFP
A wounded man walks at the port near the scene of an explosion in the Lebanese capital Beirut on August 4, 2020. Two huge explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut, wounding dozens of people, shaking buildings and sending huge plumes of smoke billowing into the sky. Lebanese media carried images of people trapped under rubble, some bloodied, after the massive explosions, the cause of which was not immediately known. ANWAR AMRO / AFP
Highlights
So far, no evidence has been released to the public to indicate that the explosions were the result of an attack. 

President Donald Trump described a series of deadly explosions in Beirut as a ‘terrible attack’ Tuesday, despite no evidence currently suggesting the blasts were intentional.

A series of massive explosions in the Lebanese capital's port area rocked the city on Tuesday evening local time, killing at least 78 people and injuring more than 4,000 others. 

'The United States stands ready to assist Lebanon,’ Trump said of the devastating scenes during a White House briefing. ‘We will be there to help. It looks like a terrible attack.’

When quizzed by a reporter if he was certain the explosion was in fact an attack, Trump said he had 'met with some of our great generals and they seem to feel that it was.

'This was not some kind of a manufacturing explosion type of event. They would know better than I would,' the president continued. 'They seem to think ... it was a bomb of some kind, yes.'

So far, no evidence has been released to the public to indicate that the explosions were the result of an attack. 

The Pentagon has not yet returned a DailyMail.com request for comment on the claims made by Trump. 

Multiple videos of the blast show fires and thick plumes of smoke emanating from a building in Beirut's port area before a mushroom cloud erupts, sending a shockwave ripping through the city.

Hundreds of buildings were leveled in the horrific explosion. The death toll is expected to rise significantly as emergency personnel continue to pull out bodies out from beneath the rubble.

'Our prayers go out to all the victims and their families,' Trump said. 'The United States stands ready to assist Lebanon.'

Contrary to Trump's claims, the Lebanese government says it's still investigating the source of the explosion.

Officials say early indications suggest the blast occurred when a warehouse storing explosive materials caught on fire. 

A large stock of ammonium nitrate was being stored in the building where the explosions occurred, Lebanese Interior Minister, Mohammed Fahmi said. 

The materials were said to have been confiscated from a ship in 2014. Fahmi has called for an investigation to determine how they ignited. 

Lebanon's Prime Minister Hassan Diab called the explosion a 'catastrophe' and vowed that those responsible 'will pay for what happened'.

Diab said an investigation will be launched into the conditions at the 'dangerous warehouse' where the blast occurred.

'I promise you that this catastrophe will not pass without accountability,' he added during a televised address. 

In a later tweet, Diab said it was 'unacceptable that a shipment of ammonium nitrate estimated at 2,750 tons has been present for six years in a warehouse without taking preventive measures that endanger the safety of citizens.' 

The industrial port that provides Lebanon with crucial trade routes was virtually flattened by the blast.

Sobering scenes showed citizens in despair as their homes were damaged, with walls blown through and windows shattered. 

Wounded men, women and children were seen navigating the mangled wreckage from buildings and debris which was sprayed all over the streets of the capital last night.   

Several of Beirut's hospitals were damaged in the blast, with Roum Hospital putting out a call for people to bring it spare generators to keep its electricity going as it evacuated patients because of heavy damage. 

Outside the St George University Hospital in Beirut's Achrafieh neighborhood, people with various injuries arrived in ambulances, in cars and on foot.

The explosion had caused major damage inside the building and knocked out the electricity at the hospital.

Aftermath footage from the offices of Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper showed panels had been ripped out of the ceiling while the room was left in disarray.

The full force of the blast, which has been likened to a 'nuclear bomb' detonation, was laid bare by the homes which took damage outside the blast radius. 

Miles from the scene of the explosion, balconies were knocked down, ceiling collapsed and windows were shattered. 

Residents said glass was broken in houses from Raouche, on the Mediterranean city's western tip, to Rabieh six miles east. 

Beirut's main airport, six miles away from the port, was reportedly damaged by the explosion, with pictures showing sections of collapsed ceiling. 

And in Cyprus, a Mediterranean island lying 110 miles (180 km) northwest of Beirut, residents reported hearing two large bangs in quick succession. One resident of the capital Nicosia said his house shook, rattling shutters. 

Local media are reporting that 2,700 tonnes of the chemical exploded, which scientists making initial calculations said was about three kilotonnes of TNT - roughly a fifth of the Little Boy atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in the Second World War.

A 'strange smell' at the port has apparently led officials to instruct civilians to leave for fear of any harmful toxins. 

This article has been adapted from its original source.     


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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