Pompeo says US ready to assist Beirut after deadly explosion

Pompeo says US ready to assist Beirut after deadly explosion
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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoWatchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump Trump's push for win with Sudan amps up pressure on Congress  Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize MORE on Tuesday said the U.S. stands ready to assist Lebanon following massive explosions in Beirut that have left dozens of people dead, thousands more injured and widespread destruction throughout the city.

“I’d like to extend my deepest condolences to all those affected by the massive explosion at the port of Beirut today,” Pompeo said in a statement. “We are closely monitoring and stand ready to assist the people of Lebanon as they recover from this tragedy.”

He added, “Our team in Beirut has reported to me the extensive damage to a city and a people that I hold dear, an additional challenge in a time of already deep crisis. We understand that the Government of Lebanon continues to investigate its cause and look forward to the outcome of those efforts.”

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The offer was reiterated by President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE during a press conference at the White House, where he said the United States stands ready to assist. 

"Our prayers go out to all the victims and their families. The United States stands ready to assist Lebanon," Trump said.

"It looks like a terrible attack," the president added without elaborating. 

The cause of the blast was not immediately known, although Lebanese government officials said highly explosive material was in storage at the port after being confiscated from a ship, The Associated Press reported.

Video on social media showed an initial column of smoke rising at the port before a second, more forceful explosion occurred — sending shockwaves across the city that overturned cars, blew out windows, and collapsed balconies and roofs.

A travel advisory posted on Twitter by the State Department said local media was reporting toxic gases released in the explosion and urged all people in the area to stay indoors and wear masks if available.

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At least 60 people are dead in a preliminary count and 3,000 wounded, according to Lebanon’s Health Minister Hassan Hamad and reported by The Associated Press.

The offer to help by the U.S. follows other international pledges from foreign ministers from France, Iran and Canada, among others.

Israel, which has no diplomatic ties with Lebanon, offered to send medical and humanitarian aid through third-party channels. 

The European Union also offered condolences and said it was ready to help following the explosion.

"My thoughts are with the people of #Lebanon and with the families of the victims of the tragic #BeirutBlast. The EU stands ready to provide assistance and support," European Council President Charles Michel said on Twitter.

Morgan Chalfant contributed to this report.

Updated: 6:19 p.m.