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Chinese peacekeepers deliver emergency medical help in Lebanon after Beirut port explosion kills 135

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 6/8/2020 Kristin Huang kristin.huang@scmp.com
a large pile of snow: The massive explosion in Beirut on Tuesday flattened much of the city’s port, damaging buildings across the capital and sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky. Photo: AP © AP The massive explosion in Beirut on Tuesday flattened much of the city’s port, damaging buildings across the capital and sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky. Photo: AP

Chinese peacekeepers will provide medical aid to Beirut following the deadly explosion on Tuesday that killed at least 135 people and injured 5,000 others.

Upon the request of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the 18th batch of Chinese peacekeeping troops to Lebanon organised an emergency team of nine medical personnel from fields including surgery, internal medicine, burns and anaesthesiology, state news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday.

smoke coming from it: Smoke rises after an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday. Photo: Karim Sokhn/Instagram via Reuters © Provided by South China Morning Post Smoke rises after an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday. Photo: Karim Sokhn/Instagram via Reuters

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The personnel and vehicles would head to Beirut, carrying medical supplies and protective equipment, the medical unit said.

The medical team of the 18th batch of Chinese peacekeeping troops to Lebanon is composed of 30 people. They were due for rotation, with 15 already returned to China and the remaining 15 expected to return on August 18.

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In China's 18th batch of peacekeepers to Lebanon, the 410 personnel performed duties including mine clearance, engineering construction, medical help and humanitarian rescue.

The 19th batch flew to Lebanon on July 28 and the team is in self-isolation because of the coronavirus pandemic.

a man standing next to a truck: A health worker carries medical supplies at the camp site of the Chinese peacekeeping troops in southern Lebanon on August 5, 2020. The medical unit of the Chinese peacekeeping forces to Lebanon will provide medical aid to Beirut following the deadly explosions at the port of the Lebanese capital on Tuesday. Photo: Xinhua © Provided by South China Morning Post A health worker carries medical supplies at the camp site of the Chinese peacekeeping troops in southern Lebanon on August 5, 2020. The medical unit of the Chinese peacekeeping forces to Lebanon will provide medical aid to Beirut following the deadly explosions at the port of the Lebanese capital on Tuesday. Photo: Xinhua

Emergency aid lands in Lebanon as world responds to Beirut blasts

China has 2,534 peacekeepers serving in eight UN peacekeeping operations, the largest peacekeeping force among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Their mission areas also include South Sudan and Mali.

To date, 19 Chinese peacekeepers have died during peacekeeping missions, according to the UN Peacekeeping website.

a body of water with a city in the background: A massive explosion rocked Beirut on Tuesday, flattening much of the city's port, damaging buildings across the capital and sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky. Photo: AP © Provided by South China Morning Post A massive explosion rocked Beirut on Tuesday, flattening much of the city's port, damaging buildings across the capital and sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky. Photo: AP

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message of condolence to Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Wednesday over the explosion.

In the message, Xi said he was shocked to learn about the blast, which caused heavy casualties and property losses.

"On behalf of the Chinese government and people, and in my own name, I would like to express my sorrow for the loss of life and extend my deep condolences to the families of the victims as well as the injured," Xi said.

The explosion at around 6pm on Tuesday sent shock waves across Beirut, the capital and largest city in Lebanon, causing widespread damage as far as the city's outskirts.

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Officials said they expected the death toll to rise further as emergency workers dug through the rubble to search for survivors.

Beirut city governor Marwan Abboud said up to 300,000 people had lost their homes and authorities were working to provide them with food, water and shelter.

Beirut bride happy to be alive after blast cuts short wedding video

The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. Officials linked the blast to some 2,750 tonnes of confiscated ammonium nitrate being stored in a warehouse at the port for six years.

It was the worst single blast to strike Lebanon, a country whose history has been plagued by destruction, including a 1975-1990 civil war, conflicts with Israel and periodic terrorist attacks.

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