YEREVAN — Armenia has sent the first planeload of humanitarian aid to Lebanon following a massive explosion in Beirut which killed at least 158 people and injured thousands of others earlier this week.

About 12 tons of medication, foodstuffs and other vital supplies in boxes with an inscription “From Armenia’s Heart To Beirut” were delivered to the Lebanese capital on board a chartered cargo aircraft that left Yerevan on Saturday evening. The first planeload of humanitarian aid included items that had been asked for by the Lebanese government and was intended for the people and the state of Lebanon.

The Armenian government said it will send two more planeloads of humanitarian aid to Lebanon in the coming days. The second and third aid supplies to be delivered on August 9 and 11 will also include items designated for the Armenian community specifically.

The government in Yerevan pledged to provide relief aid immediately after the August 4 explosion at Beirut’s sea-port warehouses.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan described Lebanon as “one of Armenia’s closest friends,” implying the existence of a sizable and influential Armenian community in the Middle Eastern state.

At least 13 members of the community were reportedly among the victims of the explosion and more than 250 were injured. The devastating blast wave also destroyed or seriously damaged many Lebanese Armenian homes.

The blast and its devastating consequences have led to calls for the evacuation of Lebanon’s ethnic Armenian nationals willing to relocate to Armenia. Some opposition politicians and public figures as well as Lebanese-born citizens or residents of Armenia have urged the Armenian government to launch special Yerevan-Beirut flights for that purpose.

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