Above photo: The massive explosion in Beirut on Tuesday flattened much of the city’s port, damaging buildings across the capital and sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky. AP.
Chinese peacekeepers will provide medical aid to Beirut following the deadly explosion on Tuesday that killed at least 135 people and injured 5,000 others.
Upon the request of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the 18th batch of Chinese peacekeeping troops to Lebanon organised an emergency team of nine medical personnel from fields including surgery, internal medicine, burns and anaesthesiology, state news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday.
The personnel and vehicles would head to Beirut, carrying medical supplies and protective equipment, the medical unit said.
The medical team of the 18th batch of Chinese peacekeeping troops to Lebanon is composed of 30 people. They were due for rotation, with 15 already returned to China and the remaining 15 expected to return on August 18.
In China’s 18th batch of peacekeepers to Lebanon, the 410 personnel performed duties including mine clearance, engineering construction, medical help and humanitarian rescue.
The 19th batch flew to Lebanon on July 28 and the team is in self-isolation because of the coronavirus pandemic.
China has 2,534 peacekeepers serving in eight UN peacekeeping operations, the largest peacekeeping force among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Their mission areas also include South Sudan and Mali.
To date, 19 Chinese peacekeepers have died during peacekeeping missions, according to the UN Peacekeeping website.
Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message of condolence to Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Wednesday over the explosion.
In the message, Xi said he was shocked to learn about the blast, which caused
heavy casualties and property losses
“On behalf of the Chinese government and people, and in my own name, I would like to express my sorrow for the loss of life and extend my deep condolences to the families of the victims as well as the injured,” Xi said.
The explosion at around 6pm on Tuesday sent shock waves across Beirut, the capital and largest city in Lebanon, causing widespread damage as far as the city’s outskirts.
Officials said they expected the death toll to rise further as emergency workers dug through the rubble to search for survivors.
Beirut city governor Marwan Abboud said up to 300,000 people had lost their homes and authorities were working to provide them with food, water and shelter.
The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. Officials linked the blast to some 2,750 tonnes of confiscated ammonium nitrate being stored in a warehouse at the port for six years.
It was the worst single blast to strike Lebanon, a country whose history has been plagued by destruction, including a 1975-1990 civil war, conflicts with Israel and periodic terrorist attacks.