Turkey offers use of southern port, more aid to Lebanon in wake of Beirut blast

Turkey is prepared to send more medical assistance and food aid and offer open use of its southern port of Mersin to Lebanon, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Saturday, following a devastating explosion that destroyed a swathe of the Lebanese capital Beirut.

All of Turkey’s hospitals and air ambulances are at Lebanon’s service, state-run Anadolu news agency cited Oktay as saying during a visit to Beirut, which is reeling in the aftermath of Tuesday’s massive blast at the capital’s port.

Turkey is ready to help rebuild the heavily damaged Beirut port and destroyed buildings nearby, Oktay said. The port sits next to a residential area and the downtown sector, where many government buildings and bank corporate offices are located.

At least 158 people were killed and more than 6,000 others injured in Tuesday’s blast, according to the Lebanese Health Ministry, although the numbers are expected to rise as search-and-rescue operations continue for 60 missing people.

The Turkish vice president shared pictures of his visit to the Lebanese capital on Twitter.

Oktay and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavuşoğlu, who accompanied the vice president on his visit, were scheduled to meet Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri later on Saturday, Anadolu said.

The pair will also visit the site of the blast and review ongoing aid efforts by the Turkish Red Crescent and the Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority.