Queen speaks out on Beirut blast as search for survivors amongst devastation continues

In a message to the the President of the Republic of Lebanon Michel Aoun, Her majesty said she and the Duke of Edinburgh were “deeply saddened” by the devastating news

    The Queen said her "thoughts and prayer" were with all those affected (Image: Getty Images)

    The Queen has spoken out following the aftermath of a huge blast in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, last night.

    In a message to the the President of the Republic of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, Her majesty said she and the Duke of Edinburgh were "deeply saddened" by the news.

    The Queen's message to Mr Aoun said: "Prince Philip and I were deeply saddened by news of the explosion at the Port in Beirut yesterday.

    "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who have been injured or lost their lives, and all those whose homes and livelihoods have been affected."

    At least 135 have been confirmed dead and more than 5,000 people injured.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Government is "ready to provide support in any way we can", while the Foreign Office said it is "monitoring the situation closely".

    The scene devastation after the explosion at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut
    (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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    Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK stands in solidarity with Lebanon.

    "My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the devastating explosion in Beirut today.

    "The UK stands in solidarity with the people of Lebanon and is ready to offer help and support, including to those British nationals impacted," he said.

    President Michel Aoun said the blast was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate being stored unsafely in a warehouse.

    Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: "The images of explosions in Beirut are deeply worrying. Our thoughts are with those affected, the emergency services and the people of Lebanon."

    Lebanese President Michel Aoun
    (Image: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

    The massive explosion sent huge clouds of smoke and gas into the air

    A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "All embassy staff are accounted for. A small number have sustained non-life-threatening injuries and, where necessary, are receiving medical attention.

    "It is a fast-moving situation and we are monitoring the situation closely. We stand ready to offer consular support to British nationals affected.

    "People should check FCO travel advice, which is updated regularly and includes contact details for those requiring consular assistance."

    Tory Defence Select Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood said the Government should offer the services of the UK's hospital ship, RFA Argus, to Lebanon.

    Boris Johnson said the Government is "ready to provide support in any way we can"
    (Image: Getty Images)

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    In a tweet, he said: "With Beirut hospitals overwhelmed (injured being treated in car parks) this asset should be part of our support offered to Lebanon."

    Abbas Ibrahim, chief of Lebanese General Security, said the blast might have been caused by highly explosive material that was confiscated from a ship some time ago and stored at the port.

    But US President Donald Trump said US military generals had told him they "seem to feel" the explosion was the result of a "terrible attack" most likely caused by a bomb.

    "It would seem like it based on the explosion," Mr Trump told reporters in Washington.

    Mr Gibb said the US President was "premature to speculate".

    A red plume, thought to be ammonium nitrate being stored in a warehouse, rises from Beirut port
    (Image: Elizabeth Fitt/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock)

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    "The Lebanese government have announced that they are conducting an inquiry and we are ready to help support the Lebanese government with any technical support that they need, but this is a tragedy and the Lebanese authorities are, of course, investigating the cause of that tragedy and I think before we have the results of that inquiry, I think it is premature to speculate," he told Sky News."

    Mr Gibb went on: "We are, as a Government, working urgently this morning on what support we can offer to the Lebanese government, whether that is technical support or financial support."

    He added that the Government "don't know yet" how many British nationals are affected and that "the prime minister of Lebanon has asked for assistance".

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    Former Middle East minister Alistair Burt said he expects the tragedy to lead to "some degree of political shake-up" in Lebanon.

    "Whether or not something like this does bring the political processes in Lebanon together to appreciate they can't go on as they are, that will be another thing, but at the moment I think we should focus on the disaster consequences, be as supportive as possible in relation to that," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

    "But I would imagine it will require some degree of political shake-up as well."

    Sourse: www.mirror.co.uk

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