BEIRUT: Cyprus sends largest aid shipment to Lebanon

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Cyprus on Friday sent its third and largest shipment of humanitarian aid to Lebanon – after the deadly blast that decimated Beirut port in early August.

A total of 20 containers with food and two with medical supplies were loaded onto a commercial ship at Limassol Port.

Together with the previous two shipments, the humanitarian aid to Lebanon is the largest ever sent abroad by Cyprus.

Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides and Ambassador of Lebanon in Nicosia Claude El Hajal were in Limassol to witness the cargo being loaded.

Christodoulides said Cyprus responded to calls immediately sending two helicopters and a 10-member rescue team to Beirut to help.

Nicosia quickly dispatched 6.5 tonnes of medical supplies and food, followed by another shipment of 70 tonnes of food, medical supplies and clothing, and a three-member team of volunteer doctors.

It also donated €5 mln for immediate humanitarian relief.

“In a few hours, the container ship carrying the third and largest part of the humanitarian aid gathered so far will sail for Lebanon, with over 200 tonnes of medicines and food,” Christodoulides said.

Claude El Hajal said: “It is at times like these that we know our true friends…Lebanon is passing through difficult times.”

“We felt from the beginning – since the 4 August when the blast hit the port of Beirut – the generosity and the sympathy and the support of Cyprus…In Lebanon, we appreciate this lot.”

El Hajal said the strong relationship between Cyprus and Lebanon has stood the test of time.

“We have been through many problems, through many challenges, but I think this one is the most difficult, but with the resilience of the Lebanese people I am sure that we will overcome this, and with the help of our friends and the international community.”

Efforts are focused on clearing the parts of the port worst affected by the blast that ripped across swathes of Beirut and killed more than 180 people.

The blast, one of the largest in recent history, levelled entire sectors of the port, created a 43-metre-deep crater that was covered by the sea and sent a shockwave that damaged property and wounded people several miles away.

Aftershocks could be felt in nearby Cyprus while rising smoke clouds could also be seen.