Beirut blasts: Belgium’s B-FAST emergency aid team flown in on Friday

Beirut blasts: Belgium’s B-FAST emergency aid team flown in on Friday
Credit: OyeWaleed1/Twitter

Belgium will deploy a B-fast military team to Beirut to provide emergency assistance in the recovery efforts after two devastating explosions ripped through the city’s port area this week.

The Belgian First Aid and Support (B-Fast) team, which is specialised in providing emergency disaster aid, is set to take off at around 8:00 PM from Belgium, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Three days after two massive blasts inside a port warehouse ravaged the waterfront and nearby neighbourhoods, officials said the death toll stood at least 157 people, with around 5,000 more injured.

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On Wednesday, Belgium’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said that two Belgian nationals had been confirmed dead in the blasts and that two staffers of the Belgian embassy, located near the site of the blasts, had also been injured.

Footage from the explosions captured from different angles streamed onto social media from Tuesday evening, with novel images still emerging days after the events.

The blasts caused widespread devastation in the waterfront area, causing the collapse of several buildings and leaving hundreds of thousands without a home, Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud said.

Abboud called the explosions a “national catastrophe,” breaking into tears during an interview conducted as he took in the damage in the immediate aftermath of the blasts.

The explosions occurred inside a warehouse where the government had stored 2,750 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate, with public anger mounting following reports that officials failed to relocate it despite being made aware of the risks.

As news of the explosions hit global headlines, Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès offered public support to Lebanon, saying Belgium “stood by Beirut in the aftermath of this tragedy.”

Belgium also offered to fly humanitarian help into Beirut and offered to support Lebanese officials by sending in a victim identification team or medical help.

The burnt unit in the military hospital in Neder-Over-Heembeek, in the north of Brussels, also said it could welcome and treat victims who were burnt in the blasts, RTBF reports.

On Thursday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU would provide €33 million in emergency assistance to Lebanon, as well as dispatch emergency relief teams.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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