Beirut blast impact can be seen six miles away, says British aid worker


The impact of the Beirut explosion can be seen six miles from the epicentre of the blast, according to one British aid worker.

The devastating blast in the city’s port on Tuesday is now known to have killed more than 150 people and destroyed large parts of the city.

British charity Saraid (Search and Rescue Assistance in Disasters) has been working in the city for several days, trying to find survivors and evaluate the structural safety of buildings hit by the blast.

One of Saraid’s volunteers, Rob Davis, 49, described the epicentre of the explosion as “completely devastated, a huge amount of damage”, but the effects can also be seen further out of the city.

He told the PA news agency: “The area of affected property is massive

“If I can give you some indication of the scale of the effect of the blast, my base of operations is 10km (6.2 miles) from the port, the windows in my base have been affected by the blast.

A firefighter by trade, volunteer Mr Davis added: “I’m 10km from the port – from the epicentre of this explosion – and my hotel, it’s not structurally damaged, but the fabrication of it is damaged.”

Mr Davis said there are “various levels of damage” across communities in Beirut, but Saraid workers are liaising with local agencies to check buildings and rank them as safe or unsafe, to “try and get some sense of normality back to the communities of Beirut”.

He added: “The whole community has been shocked by this devastating event.”

Saraid is a British charity that provides search and rescue personnel in response to disasters across the globe.

The voluntary organisation has helped in crises such as Hurricane Irma which hit the Caribbean in 2017, as well as earthquakes in Albania and Ecuador in 2019 and 2016 respectively.

Initially Sariad sent six people to Beirut, however over the weekend a second team flew out to join them and assist in the recovery and engineering work.

On Saturday, Boris Johnson told Lebanon’s president Michel Aoun the UK will “stand by the country in its hour of need”.

According to a No 10 spokesman, the Prime Minister also conveyed condolences from the Queen.

The spokesman said: “The two leaders discussed the urgent humanitarian, medical and reconstruction needs following the blast at Beirut Port and President Aoun thanked the UK for the support provided to date, including the release of £5 million in emergency funding and deployment of HMS Enterprise.

“With Lebanon facing threats from a financial crisis, coronavirus and the effects of this tragic blast, they agreed to work with international partners to ensure the country’s long-term recovery and rehabilitation.”