The Canadian government is providing $5 million in humanitarian assistance to help the citizens of Lebanon who are reeling from a devastating explosion Tuesday that killed hundreds and left thousands more injured.
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne says $1.5 million will go to the Lebanese Red Cross to provide food, shelter and emergency medical services.
“Canada stands with the people of Lebanon in this harrowing time,” tweeted Champagne.
“We will continue to monitor the situation on the ground closely. We stand ready to provide additional assistance, as appropriate.”
New Democrat international development critic Heather McPherson says the humanitarian aid is gravely needed and the Lebanese people will require significant international support.
McPherson says beyond assisting with immediate food, medical, and other needs, the federal government must take concrete action to assist the international community’s long-term humanitarian efforts.
As international aid flights began to arrive in Beirut, investigators probing the deadly blast focused Wednesday on possible negligence in the storage of tons of a highly explosive fertilizer in a waterfront warehouse.
The blast killed 135 people and injured about 5,000 others.
The investigation is focusing on how 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive chemical used in fertilizers, came to be stored at the facility for six years, and why nothing was done about it.
The Port of Beirut and customs office is notorious for being one of the most corrupt and lucrative institutions in Lebanon where various factions and politicians, including Hezbollah, hold sway.
Losses from the blast are estimated to be between $10 billion to $15 billion, Beirut Gov. Marwan Abboud told Saudi-owned TV station Al-Hadath, adding that nearly 300,000 people are homeless.
Hospitals were overwhelmed by the injured. One that was damaged in the blast had to evacuate all its patients to a nearby field for treatment.
It was the worst single explosion to strike Lebanon, a country whose history is filled with destruction _ from a 1975-1990 civil war, conflicts with Israel and periodic terrorist attacks.