Beirut explosion leaves hospitals overwhelmed

By - World Healthcare Journal

Beirut explosion leaves hospitals overwhelmed

An explosion in Beirut caused mass destruction yesterday, wounding thousands and damaging buildings across the city.

According to authorities in Beirut, more than 300,000 people have been rendered homeless by the blast, and more than half the city has been affected. The impact of the blast was even felt by citizens in Cyprus - more than 240km away.

Across the city, hospitals are already at maximum capacity, treating thousands of injured citizens. Worse still, with the enormous damage caused by the explosion, running water, electricity, and essential provisions have all been affected.

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, which Lebanon was struggling to defeat - an already weakened healthcare system is now on the brink of collapse.

"In the health sector, we are suffering from a crisis in the face of the coronavirus, to which this humanitarian and health catastrophe has now been added," says Lebanon’s Health Minister, Hamad Hassan, on state-run NNA news channel.

"It requires everyone to engage positively from politicians, political parties, authorities, and from all friendly and brotherly countries because we suffer from a shortage in the number of beds and a lack of equipment to help injured people, and those are in critical conditions," he said.

At the present time, sources suggest that the explosion was caused by more than 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which was improperly stored for years. For reference, the Oklahoma City bombers used two tonnes of ammonium nitrate to destroy a federal government building, killing more than 168 people and injuring thousands.

The Lebanese Red Cross is setting up shelters and distributing aid, estimating it will be able to provide food, shelter, and basic needs for 1,000 families for 3 days - however, this will not be enough to help the tens of thousands affected. The Lebanese government has also allocated 100bn Lebanese Pounds to help with the crisis - an estimated $66m US Dollars.

Dr Mike Ryan, Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme has announced that WHO is assisting with the crisis in Beirut and stands in solidarity with the people of Lebanon.

“It’s a very, very shocking event,” says Dr Ryan.

“Damage assessments need to continue as you’ve seen many hospitals overwhelmed with casualties, and people are still looking for the injured and the dead."

“It’s a very sad day. We stand in solidarity with the people of Lebanon, and we will do everything in our power, as WHO and the UN system to support them. ” 

Prime Minister of Lebanon, Hassan Diab, shared words of anger and grief at the catastrophic event on national television.

"What happened today will not pass without accountability. Those responsible for this catastrophe will pay the price,” he said.

Furthermore, Diab also urged nations and organisations to help and aid Lebanon in recovering from the enormous loss of life and destruction.

"I am sending an urgent appeal to all countries that are friends and brothers and love Lebanon, to stand by its side and help us treat these deep wounds," he said.

Thankfully, dozens of nations and organisations have already answered the call. Turkey is deploying search & rescue teams, healthcare workers, and medical supplies immediately, whilst also planning to set up a field hospital.

The French President, Emmanuel Macron, has stated he will journey to Beirut on Thursday, and has pledged an emergency assistance package for Lebanon, including 15 tons of equipment, military planes, essential supplies, and personnel.

Russia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, The Netherlands, and many more have also pledged support and aid for the nation.

If you yourself wish to help victims of the blast, you can donate to the Lebanese Red Cross who are now raising funds online.  

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