Beirut Explosion: Czech Rescue Team Continues to Search for Survivors

International rescue workers and aid have begun arriving in the ruins of Beirut, joining local teams combing the rubble for signs of life after a huge explosion on Tuesday destroyed swaths of Lebanon’s capital.

“The safety situation in the area is stable. All members of the team are fine. After yesterday’s deployment, we record minor injuries to two dogs,” says firefighter spokeswoman Nicole Studená.

Today, Czech firefighters plan to move to a new area, and the transportation will be provided by the Lebanese army.

The EU gathered emergency workers and equipment from across the 27-nation bloc and was urgently sending more than 100 firefighters with vehicles, sniffer dogs and equipment designed to find people trapped in urban areas.

Forty specialists from the Czech USAR (Urban Search and Rescue Team) arrived in Lebanon on Wednesday. They are trained to rescue people from debris, and the group includes cynologists, a structural engineer and a doctor.

Health Minister Hamad Hassan said at least 154 people have been killed in the explosion and 5,000 others injured, but the number is expected to rise as search-and-rescue operations continued for missing people.

Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said that “the Czech government earmarked CZK 10 million in emergency aid which will be dispatched following negotiations with the Lebanese authorities.”

For Lebanon, the devastation from the explosion — likely caused by the ignition of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate — came as the country is wrestling with a dire economic situation and a global pandemic.

The World Health Organization was airlifting enough medical supplies to cover up to 1,000 trauma procedures and up to 1,000 surgeries, following a request from the health minister.

The World Food Programme plans to import wheat flour and grains for bakeries and mills to help protect against food shortages across Lebanon after Tuesday’s blast wrecked its main port in Beirut, the United Nations agency said on Friday.



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