ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday sent its condolences to Lebanon a day after a powerful blast in port warehouses near central Beirut storing highly explosive material killed 78 people and injured nearly 4,000.
Officials said they expected the death toll to rise further after Tuesday’s blast as emergency workers dug through rubble to rescue people and remove the dead. It was the most powerful explosion in years in Beirut, which is already reeling from an economic crisis and a surge in coronavirus infections.
“We express our sincere condolences to Govt. & people of Lebanon over loss of precious lives in #BeirutBlast & pray for early recovery of injured,” the foreign office said in a tweet, asking Pakistanis in need to reach out to the country's embassy in Beirut.
Pakistan’s ministry of overseas Pakistanis said preliminary information showed “all Pakistani Embassy personnel, their families and #OverseasPakistanis are safe” in Beirut.
“Ministry has setup emergency helpline to assist OPs [overseas Pakistanis] in need of help.” the ministry posted, adding that there were around 1,000 Pakistanis based in Lebanon.
President Michel Aoun has said that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilisers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures, and said it was “unacceptable”.
"What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe,” the head of Lebanon’s Red Cross George Kettani told broadcaster Mayadeen. “There are victims and casualties everywhere.”