Fijian peacekeepers ready to help, says PM after explosion in Lebanon
Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says Fiji’s peacekeepers in the region are ready to help in any way they can after the explosion at Beirut Port in Lebanon.
Bainimarama made the comment on his official social media page.
“Our prayers are with the families of the victims, the thousands who have been injured, and the staff of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon,” he said.
Meanwhile, Fiji Military Commander Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto said Fijians working in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon are safe.
Naupoto said he has contacted one of their soldiers Major Saulo Koro who works at the UNFIL Headquarters based in Naqoura.
Commander Naupoto said the RFMF currently does not have any peacekeepers based in Beirut where the explosion took place.
“We have one working with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon from RFMF. Major Koro. I contacted him a few minutes ago and his okay. He is based in Naqoura which is quite far from Beirut. But he is okay. I’ve also had an opportunity to contact some of the civilians who are working for the UN. They are UN civilian staff but they’ve indicated that they’re all okay also.”
Some of the Fijian civilian staff working at UN are former military officers.
Naupoto said he has instructed his staff to maintain contact with Major Koro and other Fijians in Beirut to ensure they are doing well.
“I also had discussions with my peacekeeping staff and they have also contacted not only Major Koro but also the Fijians who are there and they’ve indicated that they are okay.”
A massive explosion rocked Beirut on Tuesday, flattening much of the city’s port, damaging buildings across the capital and sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky. More than 70 people were killed and 3,000 injured, with bodies buried in the rubble, officials said.
The blast which struck with the force of a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, according to Germany’s geosciences center GFZ, and was heard and felt as far away as Cyprus more than 180 miles across the Mediterranean.
Lebanon’s interior minister said it appeared that a large cache of ammonium nitrate in the port had detonated.
Lebanon's Prime Minsiter Hassan Diab has said it is “unacceptable” that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were being stored in a warehouse.
“I will not rest until we find the person responsible for what happened so we can hold them to account and impose the most severe punishment," the prime minister was quoted as saying by an official Twitter account.
“It is unacceptable that a shipment of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate has been present for six years in a warehouse, without taking preventive measures and endangering the safety of citizens,” he said.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/FBC NEWS/AP/BBC NEWS