Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has expressed his deep condolences to the government and people of Lebanon, stressing the island’s readiness to provide any assistance necessary, following the two explosions which shook Beirut on Tuesday.
"My deep condolences to the Government and the people of Lebanon, particularly to the families of all those who died at the tragic Beirut explosions. We wish and pray for the speedy recovery of the injured ones. We stand ready to provide any assistance deemed necessary," President Anastasiades wrote on Twitter.
The Cyprus Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides also took to Twitter on Tuesday after the Lebanon blast to express “overwhelming and heartfelt sympathy to the Lebanese people” while adding Nicosia had notified Beirut of the island’s “immediate readiness to assist.”
"Cyprus is ready to accept injured persons for treatment and send medical teams if required," Christodoulides also said on state radio Wednesday morning.
Over 100 people were killed and thousands wounded in a massive explosion that shook the Lebanese capital on Tuesday, with shockwaves of the deadly blast reaching as far as Cyprus.
According to foreign media, a powerful blast at Beirut’s port warehouses shook the entire Lebanese capital on Tuesday late afternoon. Lebanon President Michel Aoun said that 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures, and he said that was “unacceptable”.
Cyprus FM to charter flight for repatriation of Cyprus nationals from Beirut
Cyprus’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Wednesday that it is planning to charter a flight on Thursday for the immediate return from Lebanon of Cypriot citizens and people legally residing in the Republic of Cyprus.
All interested are called to register at www.connect2cy.gov.cy by Wednesday 10pm local time, if they haven’t done so already, to declare their interest to return to Cyprus. They can also call 22801000 between 9am and 4pm.
Due to the ongoing situation in the country, passengers will not be required to register at www.cyprusflightpass.gov.cy or obtain a negative COVID-19 certificate beforehand, but will be checked for the virus upon arrival, the Foreign Ministry said.
It is estimated that Lebanon hosts some 2,000 Cyprus nationals, the President of the Cypriot community in Lebanon, Stalo Habibi, said.
Current information shows that three Cypriot women were injured by the blast, one being the Cyprus ambassador Eleni Papanikolaou, with the consulate office of the Republic destroyed by the explosion.
Cypriots among the thousands of those left homeless by blast
Thousands of people, among them Cyprus nationals, were left homeless following the huge blast that rocked Beirut yesterday and Cyprus stands ready to assist, the island’s ambassador to Lebanon Panikos Kyriakou has said. The Embassy and the Ambassador’s Residence were destroyed by the explosion.
Kyriakou attended a broad meeting at the Foreign Affairs Ministry to coordinate Cyprus’ actions following the blast.
The Ambassador said before the meeting that the explosion took place practically in the heart of Beirut and has caused widespread damage. He added that Cyprus stands by the Lebanese people and will assist in every way possible.
He expressed his condolences to the people and the Government of Lebanon for the tragic event and added that the needs will be assessed by the authorities and certain actions will take place. The Ambassador said that the Foreign Minister has already spoken on the phone with his Lebanese counterpart.
He added that there is an emergency contact number for Cypriots who are now in Lebanon and assistance will be provided for those who wish to be repatriated. There are around 2,000 Cypriots residing in Lebanon but the Ambassador said that there are also others who went there on vacation, either directly from Cyprus or from elsewhere.
Blast hasn’t affected Cyprus air quality
Head of the labour ministry’s air quality department, Chrysanthos Savvides, said Wednesday that for the time being, Cyprus appears to have dodged the potentially harmful fumes that were released by the ammonium nitrate explosion.
Recent air quality readings in Larnaca, the coastal city located closest to the shores of Lebanon, show that levels of nitrogen oxide, the main pollutant produced by the explosion, is at normal levels, Savvides said.
At the time of the blast, nitrogen oxide levels in Larnaca were at 10 micrograms, while on Wednesday readings showed it had increased to 65, but Savvides said normal levels reach up to 200.
He noted that at the time of the blast, the wind was blowing in an opposite direction to Cyprus, which may explain why the island has not recorded any signs of potentially harmful fumes released by the explosion.