IranAir will operate an evacuation flight today to remove Iranian citizens from Lebanon after a massive explosion. The explosion, which took place yesterday in Beirut’s port, has resulted in over 100 fatalities and more than 4,000 casualties. The rescue flight will leave Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran this afternoon and will return just hours later.
After a massive explosion shook the Lebanese capital of Beirut, Iran has decided to evacuate its citizens. IranAir will operate a flight leaving Tehran at 13:40 local time. The return flight will leave Beirut at 16:00 local time and land in Iran again at 20:00.
Lebanese hospitals are already stretched to the breaking point with COVID-19, so it is not yet clear if IranAir will also be looking to take wounded Iranian citizens back to Iran. The Iranian government has said it is also prepared to offer aid supplies to the Lebanese people but there has been no word on whether this IranAir flight will be used to transport cargo to Beirut.
Stunning video shows explosions just minutes ago at Beirut port pic.twitter.com/ZjltF0VcTr
— Borzou Daragahi 🖊🗒 (@borzou) August 4, 2020
According to local media, Beirut’s Rafic Al-Hariri International Airport, which is situated just 10km (6 miles) from the explosion site, sustained serious damage. It is not yet clear how the damage will affect IranAir’s attempts to rescue its citizens.
Local media has claimed that buildings very close to the airport were so damaged that workers were searching for bodies under the rubble. If this is the extent of the damage, to the airport, following the proper procedure will be complicated. However, FlightRadar24.com has confirmed that flights are still operating from the airport despite the blast.
Health and safety issues
Whether IranAir is expecting to transport medical cases or not, it must undoubtedly be aware of the health and safety issues surrounding the flight. Witness reported seeing an orange cloud over the explosion site.
The cloud is a result of nitrogen dioxide entering the atmosphere after a massive explosion. Nitrogen dioxide can cause significant issues to the respiratory system making it hard to breathe as well as making people more susceptible to airborne diseases such as the flu. Not ideal with COVID-19 so prevalent in the area. No doubt, the airline will be extra cautious when it comes to wearing facemasks onboard.
IranAir’s recent rescue flights
IranAir has operated its fair share of rescue flights in the past months. Like many national carriers, the airline has been repatriating citizens from around the world as nations locked down due to the threat of COVID-19. The airline flew to Austria, Italy, India, Pakistan, and several destinations in India to help bring citizens home.
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As Lebanon is struggling when it comes to medical services within the country, the mass influx of patients to Beirut’s hospital may mean other countries look to their national carriers to bring citizens away from the country. Beirut airport has further departures today from Kuwait Airlines, EgyptAir, Air Arabia, and Qatar Airways. These flights will likely be busy with travelers looking to return home as soon as possible.
What do you think of the situation in Lebanon? Should more countries look to rescue citizens? IranAir has not yet responded to a request for comment, but we will update this article should the situation develop.