Lebanon says earthquake death toll of its citizens could rise
Follow the latest on the earthquake in Turkey
Lebanon has said that the number of Lebanese citizens killed in Turkey after the devastating earthquake there last week could rise.
The Lebanese foreign ministry said on Tuesday that nine Lebanese citizens are confirmed to have died, but six are missing and are probably under the rubble. On Wednesday, it was announced that the body of one of those missing had been found. Six of the dead were buried in Turkey at the request of their families, while the other three were repatriated to Lebanon, according to the Lebanese embassy in Ankara.
Another 70 were found alive after the earthquake that has so far killed more than 40,000 in Turkey and neighbouring Syria.
The situation regarding Lebanese citizens in Syria is less clear, but local reports suggest at least three have died ― although the figure is likely to be much higher.
While many in Lebanon were awoken in the early hours of last Monday by the earthquake, the country has been relatively unaffected ― although the tremors and confusion brought back memories for some of previous conflicts and the deadly 2020 Beirut port blast.
Lebanon has sent rescue teams and military units to Turkey and Syria to support relief efforts.
A high-level delegation, led by Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib, was sent to Damascus soon after the earthquake for talks with Syrian officials, including President Bashar Al Assad, to see how Lebanon could support Syria.
Lebanon has waived taxes and fees for any Syrian-bound humanitarian aid arriving at Lebanon’s ports and airports.
A steady trickle of aid has been arriving in Lebanon for affected areas. The most recent was a Romanian military plane that arrived on Tuesday carrying more than five tonnes of medical aid, food and winter clothes.
Iran-backed Hezbollah, the Lebanese armed group and political party, announced at the weekend that it had sent a convoy of 23 lorries carrying food and medical aid to Syrian government areas.
Hezbollah is a close ally of the Syrian government and has fought alongside the Syrian military and its allies during the civil war there.