Lebanon struggles to come to terms with devastation | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 07, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:55 AM, August 07, 2020

Lebanon struggles to come to terms with devastation

Dhaka to send food, medical team; blast death toll hits 145

Bangladesh has decided to send emergency food, medical supplies and a medical team to Lebanon after the massive destruction caused by the twin explosions at Beirut Port on Tuesday evening. 

Two days on, Lebanon was still reeling from the blast as the death toll climbed to at least 145 and those injured to 5,000. The death toll was expected to keep rising as rescue workers were still digging through the rubble, with dozens still missing.

At least four Bangladeshis were killed and 102 others, including 21 members of the Bangladesh Navy, were injured. At least two Bangladeshis were missing until yesterday. Of those injured, nine are undergoing treatment in hospital, said Head of Chancery Abdullah Al Mamun at the Bangladesh embassy in Beirut.

"The situation of one of them is still critical. However, the condition of the Bangladesh Navy member, which was critical on Tuesday, has improved," he told this correspondent yesterday over phone. 

Bangladesh Navy ship "Bijoy", which was deployed in Lebanon for the UN Peacekeeping operations and harboured at the Beirut Port on Tuesday, has also been damaged. The Navy was assessing the extent of the damage.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina offered her deepest condolences over the loss of innocent lives.

"On behalf of the people and the government of Bangladesh and on my own behalf, I express our deepest condolences, for the loss of innocent lives due to the explosion that took place in Beirut on Tuesday night," Hasina said in a message to her Lebanese counterpart Hassan Diab, reports BSS.

The Bangladesh premier also conveyed her sincere sympathy to the bereaved family members of the victims.

"It is my firm conviction that the government of Lebanon, under your able leadership, will be able to bring the situation under control," she said, adding that Bangladesh would stand beside the people and the government of Lebanon in such a crisis.

Speaking of the Bangladeshi nationals who lost their lives and were injured, she said the government would look after them. She prayed for the salvation of the departed souls and also for the quick recovery of the injured.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen also called his Lebanese counterpart Charbel Wehbe on Wednesday and conveyed his condolences for the deaths, injuries and other damages.

"In need, Bangladesh stands ready to provide any emergency assistance to Lebanon," he told the Lebanese minister.

Momen thanked Wehbe for providing medical treatment to Bangladeshis injured in the explosion in Lebanon, home to some 150,000 Bangladeshis.

A foreign ministry official said Bangladesh is preparing food, medical supplies and a medical team to be sent to Lebanon on a chartered flight. The schedule of the flight is, however, yet to be decided.

Beirut's governor estimated that up to 300,000 people have been left temporarily homeless by the destruction, which he said would cost the debt-ridden country in excess of three billion dollars, reports AFP.

Human Rights Watch supported mounting calls for an international probe into the disaster.

"An independent investigation with international experts is the best guarantee that victims of the explosion will get the justice they deserve," the watchdog said.

In France, prosecutors have opened a probe into the blast over injuries suffered by 21 French citizens.

Amid the gloom and fury, the aftermath of the terrible explosion has also yielded countless uplifting examples of spontaneous solidarity.

Business owners swiftly took to social media, posting offers to repair doors, paint damaged walls or replace shattered windows for free.

Much of the cleanup has been handled by volunteers in improvised working groups who bring their own equipment and organise online appeals for help.

"We're sending people into the damaged homes of the elderly and handicapped to help them find a home for the night," said Husam Abu Nasr, a 30-year-old volunteer.

"We don't have a state to take these steps, so we took matters into our own hands." 

 

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