Portugal: Country ready to send rescue teams to Lebanon following explosions

Portugal has expressed its willingness to send 42 operatives to Lebanon as a national joint force to assist local authorities following the two explosions that shook Beirut on Tuesday.

The announcement was made on Wednesday by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI), which in a statement specifies that the team is made up of operatives from Civil Protection, the National Republican Guard (GNR), National Medical Emergency Institute (INEM) and the Lisbon fire corporation.

According to the MAI, the operatives have skills in the areas of search and rescue in urban environment, pre-hospital emergency and response to nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical events.

The move comes in response to a request for international assistance from Lebanon to the European Civil Protection Mechanism.

The mobilisation of the National Joint Operational Force still depends, however, on its formal acceptance by the Lebanese authorities, the MAI said.

Two strong explosions in succession shook Beirut on Tuesday, killing more than 100 people and injuring more than 4,000, according to the latest assessment from the Red Cross.

Up to 300,000 people are believed to have been left homeless by the explosions, according to Marwan Abboud, Beirut’s governor.

Portugal’s government on Tuesday said that it had no indications that any Portuguese nationals were among the victims.

The president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, on Wednesday today a message to his Lebanese counterpart, Michel Aoun, expressing “condolences to the relatives of the victims and wishes for a speedy recovery to all the injured, as well as his solidarity to all the Lebanese people.”

Portugal’s government also expressed its solidarity with Lebanon and its people, stating that it will participate in the European Union’s support plan.

The violent explosions are believed to have been in explosive materials that had been confiscated and stored for several years in the port of the Lebanese capital.

Lebanon’s prime minister, Hassan Diab, revealed that some 2 750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were stored at the depot in the port.