Turkey got mobilized both with state-run aid organizations and charity foundations to heal the wounds of the Lebanese capital Beirut, which was rocked with a catastrophic explosion on Tuesday.
A massive blast took place in a warehouse containing explosives at the Port of Beirut, causing widespread damage in several surrounding suburbs of the capital, leaving at least 154 people dead and injured thousands.
Following the incident, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call extended his condolences to his counterpart Michel Aoun and the Lebanese people, noting that Turkey stands by Lebanon and is ready to provide all humanitarian assistance, mainly healthcare, to the Lebanese people.
Top Turkish officials also expressed sorrow to the people of Lebanon after the deadly explosion.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Turkish leader had ordered the Turkish Red Crescent to aid in relief efforts, adding that plans are also in motion for the construction of a field hospital, as well as providing humanitarian aid including drugs and medical supplies.
Earlier on Wednesday, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter that he spoke over the phone with his Lebanese counterpart Hamad Hassan, and said that Turkey will send medical and humanitarian aid to Lebanon.
Turkish parliament’s head Mustafa Sentop also offered his condolences to his Lebanese counterpart Nabih Berri in a phone talk, adding that: “Turkey has always stood by Lebanon. In this difficult period, we are ready to offer support and aid for Lebanon with every means available.”
Turkish Red Crescent Chairman Kerem Kinik said they “immediately contacted” the Lebanese Red Cross to show that Turkey is ready to help.
Numan Kurtulmus, the deputy chairman of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, speaking to a local radio program said that Turkey stands with the people of Lebanon without discrimination in this time of crisis.
Lebanon has been grappling with civil war for years, and this explosion will shatter the balances in the country, which are already on thin ice, he added.
Turkey’s aid to Lebanon
On Wednesday, a Turkish military plane carrying aid and a search and rescue team on Erdogan’s order took off from the capital Ankara and headed to Beirut, and safely arrived there early Thursday, authorities announced.
The plane was carrying aid material prepared by the Turkish Health Ministry, the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Turkish Red Crescent (Kizilay).
The aircraft was carrying 21 National Medical Rescue personnel, two emergency units, three tents, medicine and medical equipment, 10 AFAD personnel, equipment, a search and rescue vehicle, three Kizilay personnel, a search and rescue team, and medical and humanitarian aid.
The AFAD head Mehmet Gulluoglu said Turkey was preparing to send the required support for Beirut, adding that 20 more National Medical Rescue personnel including trauma experts, surgeons, orthopedics experts, and emergency medical doctors will be on their way to Beirut.
Gulluoglu also went to Lebanese capital with the search and medical teams, saying “we are here until this disaster is over.”
There are 40 people in the Turkish team, which will do everything necessary in terms of relief efforts, he added.
Meanwhile, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said on Twitter that Turkey “took action to heal the wounds of Lebanon.”
“Turkey has extended a helping hand to Lebanon, which lost most of the wheat storages in the explosion in Beirut. TIKA [Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency] will deliver about 400 tons of wheat to the Lebanese authorities,” Ersoy said.
Turkey’s Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) announced on Wednesday that it extended a helping hand to the people of Lebanon, adding that the IHH ambulance team was mobilized, as well as on-site search and rescue team was formed through the charity’s partner in the region.
“Preparations are continuing for the supplies in hospitals. Hot meals taken out in the kitchen of the refugee camps will be delivered during the day to families whose homes are damaged,” IHH said in a statement, also noting that 1,200 packages with food and drinks were being prepared to distribute to people.
IHH also said that repair and renovation works of damaged houses will be also supported by the charity, as well as temporary housing benefits will be provided to people, and food and cash aid will be delivered as part of emergency aid.
In the statement, it was emphasized that IHH teams will increase their activities in the region according to need and will continue to stand by the Lebanese people until the end of the crisis.
Blast under investigation
The government, which blamed the blast on a large quantity of ammonium nitrate stored in the port, said Wednesday that an investigation is underway which will take five days.
The blast rocked Lebanon while the country is in the midst of its worst economic crisis in history, including a precipitous decline in the value of the pound against the dollar.
Beirut’s Governor Marwan Abboud said the material damage from the incident will cost some $10-15 billion.
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