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WHO airlifting medical supplies to Lebanon

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Beirut: The World Health Organization says it is airlifting medical supplies to Lebanon to cover up to 1,000 trauma interventions and up to 1,000 surgical interventions following the explosion in Beirut.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said supplies airlifted from a “humanitarian hub” in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates would be used to treat burns and wounds caused by broken glass and other debris from the explosion.

The airlift follows a request from the Lebanese health minister, and the supplies were expected to arrive in Lebanon later Wednesday.

Jasarevic said in an email that the WHO will “stand ready to also provide other urgent support.”

Meanwhile, Russian emergency officials said the first plane with medical workers and equipment for a make-shift hospital had left the country and was en route to Beirut. Four more flights were due to follow in the next 24 hours with more rescuers and medical workers, as well as equipment for a coronavirus testing lab and protective gear.

Some 150 Russian personnel will be deployed to Lebanon to help deal with consequences of the explosion that devastated Beirut.

Norway is offering 25 million kroner ($2.74 million) and 40 tons of medical equipment to Lebanon after the huge explosion in the harbor of the Lebanese capital.

“The situation is pretty confusing right now. In the coming days we will know more about what is needed in the long-term,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide told reporters on Wednesday.

She said the Norwegian embassy in Beirut suffered damage in the explosion but all staff members were safe. She said there is no indication of Norwegian citizens being injured in Tuesday’s blast, which killed at least 100 people.

Turkey is sending search and rescue teams along with emergency medical personnel to aid Lebanon in the aftermath of a devastating explosion.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Wednesday that Turkey also is preparing a field hospital, humanitarian aid, medical equipment and medicine for use in Beirut.

“We will continue giving Lebanon all support with the hope that these difficult days will be overcome as soon as possible through solidarity and cooperation,” the spokesman said.

A government minister says the Netherlands is sending a search and rescue team made up of police, firefighters, trauma doctors and nurses to help find survivors and victims of the huge blast in Beirut.

Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Minister Sigrid Kaag told Dutch public broadcaster NPO Radio 1 the 67-strong team is leaving Wednesday evening “and will start work immediately.”

Kaag said one or two people were seriously wounded at the Netherlands’ Embassy and others suffered minor injuries as the diplomatic office suffered damage from the devastating explosion.

Kaag previously served as a United Nations under-secretary general in Lebanon and says she has friends there who are injured or have lost a home.

Gulf Arab states have offered various forms of support for Lebanon, though any sustained financial assistance is complicated by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group’s presence in government and on the ground.

Saudi-funded medical teams were dispatched from north Lebanon to Beirut to care for and to help transport the wounded on Tuesday, while a specialized team from a Saudi-funded medical center provided emergency health care services in the Lebanese capital, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

Kuwait and Qatar dispatched airplanes full of medical cargo. Qatari officials told The Associated Press that cargo from Doha included two large air-conditioned tents, kits for 1,000 beds, generators and diesel tanks, 50 ventilators, emergency medical supplies like first aid kits, gauze and needles, and medicine.

A search and rescue team was also being sent to support.

Meanwhile, urgent medical and humanitarian supplies were being sent from the International Humanitarian City in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Turkish authorities say six Turkish citizens are among thousands of people injured in the massive explosion in Beirut that killed at least 100 people.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted that one Turkish national was in surgery and the others were lightly injured.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke on the phone with Lebanese President Michel Auon late Tuesday and tweeted his condolences.

Erdogan’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, tweeted: “All our government agencies are ready to help the Lebanese people.” There were no immediate details.

Separately, Greek diplomatic officials say one Greek woman appears to be among the dead and two other Greek women are injured. Authorities say Greece has sent a search and rescue team to Beirut and will send more aid if needed.

Cyprus’ foreign minister says two police helicopters are on their way to the Lebanese capital with 10 emergency response personnel and eight sniffer dogs to help locate survivors in the rubble of buildings destroyed in Tuesday’s massive blast.

Cyprus is approximately 120 miles (180 kilometers) away from Beirut, but the explosion was heard and felt by many on the east Mediterranean island nation.

Minister Nikos Christodoulides told The Associated Press that Cyprus will also dispatch additional rescue crews, paramedics, non-perishable food items, aluminum and glass that Lebanese authorities have requested. Cyprus will also send chartered flights to Lebanon to repatriate Cypriot citizens wishing to return home. (AP)

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