In a tweet Wednesday evening, Francois-Philippe Champagne said Canada is “providing an initial $5 million in humanitarian assist for the people of Lebanon.”
Champagne said $1.5 million will be given to Lebanon Red Cross to meet urgent needs like food, shelter and emergency medical services.
According to Champagne, Canada will “continue to monitor the situation on the ground closely” and provide additional assistance as appropriate.
The blasts occurred near Beirut’s port and central district.
The first explosion took place just after 6 p.m. local time.
Images and video from the immediate aftermath show crumbled buildings, shattered windows and overturned cars, with much of the ruins coated in debris and dust. Several fires burned across the port waterfront once the initial plumes faded.
Thousands of people were injured.
It remains unclear what caused the explosions, though authorities believe the first blast may have been at a warehouse containing fireworks located at the port.
The second blast is believed to have occurred at a warehouse used to store nearly 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate — a highly explosive material.
The investigation is ongoing and the city of Beirut is now under a two-week state of emergency.
New Democrat international development critic Heather McPherson says the humanitarian aid is “gravely needed.”
“Going forward, the Lebanese people will require significant international support and Canada must be there to help,” an emailed statement reads.
McPherson says beyond assisting with immediate food, medical, and other needs, the federal government must take concrete action to assist the international community’s long-term humanitarian efforts.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the news from Beirut “absolutely tragic” in a tweet on Tuesday.
“Canadians are thinking of everyone who has been injured and all those who are trying to locate a friend or family member or have lost a loved one,” Trudeau wrote. “We’re keeping you in our thoughts and we stand ready to assist in any way we can.”
According to Global Affairs Canada, one Canadian has requested consular assistance in Lebanon following the explosions.
One member of the Canadian military was injured in the explosions.
— With files from Global News’ Rachael D’amore and The Canadian Press