DONALD Trump has revealed the US is sending three planes “fully loaded” with aid to help in the aftermath of the explosion in Beirut.
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Donald Trump has pledged to send aid to Beirut[/caption]
A soldier walks through the devastation in Beirut[/caption]
Mr Trump spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron who was pictured touring the blast site as the full extent of the damage and death toll continues to emerge.
He extended condolences to Lebanese President Michel Aoun and the families of those killed the explosion.
The President will today be holding a conference all with Mr Macron and Mr Aoun to discuss what the next step should be.
He confirmed three planes “fully loaded with medical supplies, food, water and many other things” are heading to Beirut from the US.
And he added that American doctors, nurses and emergency workers have also been dispatched to help in the ongoing rescue efforts.
Speaking at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, he said: “This was an event like the world has not seen for a long time. Horrible event.”
He added: “Everyone wants to help. We stand firmly with the people of Lebanon and will continue to offer our support through this difficult time.”
The enormous explosion was caused when a fire ignited 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse.
Dozens of people remain missing, at least 5,000 people were injured and 300,000 have been left homeless.
Questions are being asked over the Lebanese government as it emerged there had been repeated warnings over the ticking timebomb which had been sitting in the port since 2014.
President Aoun revealed he learned about the stash of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate on July 20 but claims he ordered officials to deal with the problem.
It has emerged officials had raised the alarm over the powder keg of chemicals at least 10 times over the last seven years with one warning it could “blow up all of Beirut.”
His claims come just hours after he said Tuesday’s deadly explosion could have been caused by a “rocket or bomb.”
An investigative committee in Lebanon has been given four days to determine responsibility – with the government warning anyone to blame with “pay the price”.
Many in the country say the tragedy was the result of years of corruption and negligence as well as the influence of terrorist group Hezbollah in the country’s politics.
The devastation came as the country was already in the midst of an economic crisis, facing spiraling debt, deteriorating public services and unemployment at 25 per cent.
A hole where the explosion ripped through Warehouse 12[/caption]
A digger moves through the rubble in the aftermath[/caption]
A rescue worker rests his head in his hands [/caption]
Meanwhile, Russian businessman Igor Grechushkin was questioned over the explosion by authorities in Cyprus after he had been accused of abandoning the ammonium nitrate.
Police spokesman Christos Andreou said that as the explosives had been seized by Lebanese authorities, they were ultimately responsible for its storage.
He is not suspected of any wrongdoing, but faced questions over “clarifications and explanations concerning the vessel and its cargo”.
The killer cargo of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate was confiscated in 2014 from the Moldovan-flagged ship Rhosus while en route from Batumi in the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia to Mozambique
The crew protested that Grechushkin claimed he had gone bankrupt and had “abandoned the ship” – going on hunger strike before finally being allowed to go ashore.
The ammonium nitrate was sold by Georgian fertiliser maker Rustavi Azot LLC, and was to be delivered to a Mozambique explosives maker, Fabrica de Explosivos.
It was however impounded by Lebanese authorities, and sat on the dockside in Warehouse 12 for six years until it blew up on Tuesday.
Anti-government graffiti in Beirut after the blast[/caption]
Riot police clash with protesters as anger mounts[/caption]
Lebanon’s people are calling for answers[/caption]
“Hang up the nooses” trended across Lebanese social media in an indication of the fury that followed the initial shock and grief.
The cabinet ordered port officials involved in storing or guarding the material since 2014 to be put under house arrest.
Reportedly the blast was sparked when a reckless welder caused a fire at nearby Warehouse 9 – which then spread to the explosive Warehouse 12.
The blast – which has caused up to $5billions= worth of damage – was so large it could be heard 110 miles across the sea in Cyprus.
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Pentagon sources described the blast as a tragic accident after President Trump said he believed it was caused by “a bomb”.
Hours after the Tuesday afternoon blast, Trump labeled the shocking event an “attack” and claimed some US generals “don’t think it was an accident.”
He said: “This was not some kind of a manufacturing explosion type of event. This was a – seems to be according to them – they would know better than I would.”
However, he later appeared to back track on the claim – conceding it “could have been an accident”.
The explosion was one of the biggest non-nuclear blasts of all time[/caption]