YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The Armenian government clarified on Friday that it will send three planeloads of humanitarian aid to Lebanon following a massive explosion in Beirut which killed at least 154 people and injured thousands of others.

Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan said that about 12 tons of medication, foodstuffs and other vital supplies will be delivered to the Lebanese capital on Saturday evening. Two more such flights will be carried out from Yerevan in the following days, Avinyan said at a meeting of senior government officials chaired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

The government pledged to provide relief aid immediately after Tuesday’s explosion at Beirut port warehouses. Pashinyan described Lebanon as “one of Armenia’s closest friends,” alluding to 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. The devastating blast wave also destroyed or seriously damaged many Lebanese Armenian homes.

Avinyan said that several Armenian government officials and lawmakers will also fly to Beirut on Saturday on board the transport plane. He said they will try to ascertain other needs of Lebanon’s government and Armenian community.

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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