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Lebanon Reels After Blast, Search for Missing Continues


Beirut Explosion

An aerial view taken on August 9, 2020, shows a partial view of the Port of Beirut, damaged as a result of last week's explosion. (Photo by AFP via Getty Images)

Lebanon’s government cabinet resigned Monday after days of anti-government protests, marking the latest development since last week’s devastating explosion in Beirut, which killed more than 200 people, according to the BBC. The explosion also injured thousands and left 300,000 people homeless. More than 100 people remain missing.

At least three hospitals in Beirut have been rendered inoperable, decreasing the number of hospital beds in Lebanon’s capital city by 500, according to the World Health Organization. In addition, at least 12 primary health clinics, maternal, immunization, and newborn centers in Beirut are reported to have been severely damaged or made inoperable. Further reducing the nation’s health care capacity, 17 containers of medical supplies, including personal protection equipment, shipped to Lebanon by WHO were destroyed in the blast. 120 metric tonnes of foodstuffs, and about 85% of cereals in Lebanon, were also incinerated.

Direct Relief has also received reports that indicate damage to cold chain storage capacity – which is needed for some types of medicines and vaccines – and possible damage to at least a portion of Lebanon’s national medical stockpile.

The August 4 explosion is believed to have been caused by the ignition of 2,750 tons of improperly stored ammonium nitrate. It registered as a magnitude 3.3 earthquake.

This disaster comes at a particularly fraught time in Lebanon, in the grip of its worst economic and humanitarian crisis since its 15-year civil war, which ended in 1990. About 75% of Lebanese people were in need of aid prior to the explosion, according to the outgoing government’s estimates.

Direct Relief has extended a $50,000 grant to long-time regional partner Anera, and has made $500,000 available to response efforts so far.

Overall, since 2010, Direct Relief has sent 36 deliveries to partners in Lebanon valued at $7.9 million and containing 1.6 million doses of medicine. Direct Relief is currently in contact with government agencies, local NGOs, and diaspora-based NGOs to help support a comprehensive medical aid response to the crisis.

Additional reporting contributed by Gordon Willcock.

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