The United States is sending food, water, and medical supplies to Beirut after a massive blast at a port killed 154 people and injured 5,000.
“Under the direction of President Donald J. Trump, the United States is delivering critical emergency aid to Lebanon following Tuesday’s horrific event in Beirut,” national security adviser Robert O’Brien said in a statement.
“The United States extends our condolences to all of the families of those lost in this tragedy. We stand firmly with the people of Lebanon and will continue to offer our full support through this difficult time.”
The U.S. Embassy in Beirut is working to determine additional needs. A U.S. Disaster Assistance Response Team has been deployed to coordinate and deliver the aid.
After the blast destroyed Lebanon’s only major grain silo, U.N. agencies helped provide emergency food and medical aid. Aid offers have also poured in from Arab states, Western nations, the Vatican, and beyond.
The explosion on Tuesday destroyed a swath of Beirut and sent seismic shockwaves around the region. While the cause of the blast remains unknown, Lebanon’s president did not rule out an attack.
“The cause has not been determined yet. There is a possibility of external interference through a rocket or bomb or other act,” Lebanon President Michel Aoun told local media.
Aoun, who had previously said explosive material was stored unsafely for years at the port, said the investigation would also weigh if the blast was due to negligence or an accident. Twenty people had been detained so far, he added.
Security forces fired tear gas at a crowd in Beirut on Thursday, as anger boiled over at the ruling elite, who have presided over an economic collapse.
Officials have said the blast, whose impact was recorded hundreds of miles away, might have caused losses amounting to $15 billion. That is a bill Lebanon cannot pay after already defaulting on a mountain of debt and with talks stalled on a lifeline from the International Monetary Fund.
Hospitals, many heavily damaged as shockwaves ripped out windows and ceilings, have been overwhelmed.
“I lived through part of the civil war. I saw people being shot in front of me. But never has there been such a horror,” said Dr. Assem Al Hajj at Beirut’s Clemenceau hospital, which he said had treated 400 victims.
As exhausted rescuers combed wreckage to find any survivors, grieving families camped outside the port where their loved ones were last seen. Some victims were hurled into the sea because of the explosive force.
“We would like to go inside the port to look for my son but we can’t get permission,” said Elias Marouni, describing his son George, a 30-year-old army officer.
Dozens are still unaccounted for.
Reuters contributed to this report.