Lebanese PM Appeals for Help After Beirut Blast

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Beirut (AP) — The Latest on the explosion in Beirut (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

The flag is flying at half-staff outside a United Nations-backed tribunal in the Netherlands that is set to announce verdicts this week in the trial of four Hezbollah members charged with involvement in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Special Tribunal for Lebanon spokeswoman Wajed Ramadam says the flag is at half-staff “to honor those who lost their lives, who were wounded and who are still missing as a result of the explosion in Beirut yesterday.”

The tribunal will announce verdicts Friday in the long-running trial in absentia of four defendants charged in the Feb. 14, 2005, truck bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others and injured 226 more people.

1:05 p.m.

International troops serving in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon are among those injured by the massive explosion that hit Beirut’s port on Tuesday.

Bangladesh’s military says at least 21 Bangladesh Navy members of the multinational force in Beirut were injured. The military’s Inter-Service Public Relations Office says one of the injured is in critical condition and had been admitted to the American University of Beirut Medical Center. Bangladesh Navy members have been working in Lebanon with the U.N. force since 2010 to prevent entry of illegal arms and ammunition.

Separately, Italy’s defense minister, Lorenzo Guerini, says one soldier assigned to Italy’s contingent in Lebanon is injured. Guerini also offers the help of Italian forces serving in the U.N. mission. Italy is the second largest contributor to the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon after Indonesia, with 1,021 troops deployed.

12:05 p.m.

Pope Francis has offered prayers for the victims, their families, and for Lebanon after the enormous explosion in Beirut’s port on Tuesday. At least 100 people were killed and thousands injured.

The pontiff appealed that ‘’through the dedication of all the social, political and religious elements,’’ Lebanon “might face this extremely tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing.’’

International aid is heading to Beirut, with Poland sending a team of about 50 firefighters, including 39 rescuers with 4 dogs and a chemical rescue module. A Greek military transport plane is heading to Lebanon with a search and rescue team with specialized equipment and a sniffer dog, while Cyprus says it will be sending help.

11:05 a.m.

Russia’s emergency officials say the country will send five planeloads of aid to Beirut after an explosion in the Lebanese capital’s port killed at least 100 people and injured thousands on Tuesday.

Russia’s Ministry for Emergency Situations will send rescuers, medical workers, a makeshift hospital and a lab for coronavirus testing to Lebanon.

France, Jordan and other countries also say aid is on the way.

10:35 a.m.

International aid in the form of emergency workers and medical personnel is heading to Lebanon a day after a massive explosion devastated Beirut’s port, killing at least 100 people and wounding thousands.

France says it is sending two planes with dozens of emergency workers, a mobile medical unit and 15 tons of aid. French President Emmanuel Macron’s office says the aid should allow for the treatment of some 500 victims.

French peacekeepers stationed in Lebanon, a former French protectorate, have been helping since the explosions, Macron’s office said.

Jordan says a military field hospital including all necessary personnel will be dispatched, according to the Royal Court. Egypt has opened a field hospital in Beirut to receive the wounded.

Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamacek says Lebanon has accepted an offer to send a team of 37 rescuers with sniffer dogs to Beirut. Denmark says it is ready to provide humanitarian assistance to Lebanon, and Greece says it is ready to help Lebanese authorities “with all means at its disposal.”

09:45 a.m.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab, in a short televised speech, has appealed to all countries and friends of Lebanon to extend help to the small nation, saying: “We are witnessing a real catastrophe.” He reiterated his pledge that those responsible for the massive explosion at Beirut’s port will pay the price, without commenting on the cause.

Diab’s speech came the morning after the blast killed at least 100 people and wounded thousands.

Smoke was still rising from the port Wednesday morning. Major downtown streets were littered with debris and damaged vehicles, and building facades were blown out.

Lebanese Red Cross official George Kettaneh said at least 100 people were killed and more than 4,000 were wounded, and said the toll could rise further.

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