11 August 2009 The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Lebanon today wrapped up a two-day large-scale disaster response exercise, responding to a fictitious earthquake in the south of the country.
The dry run, which the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) conducted with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), tested the forces’ combined reaction to an earthquake with a magnitude of six on the Richter scale.
“Whereas one wishes that a natural disaster never strikes any people, preparedness to respond to such an eventuality is always important in order to mitigate the resulting damage to life and property,” said UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano.
“In such situations, immediate first response is critical to save human life, treat the injured, and to prevent further injury and other forms of loss,” stressed Maj.-Gen. Graziano.
The operation, called “United Beacon,” was carried out in cooperation with a number of Government and non-government organizations (NGOs) in the village of Srifa, involving some 700 soldiers split between LAF and UNIFIL, 140 vehicles and three helicopters.
“This exercise is an important step in the continued efforts of UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army to enhance our combined ability to deal with any natural disaster in our area of operations,” said Maj.-Gen. Graziano.
The coordinated immediate response activities included deployment of emergency LAF and UNIFIL teams; aerial and ground reconnaissance of the affected area; search, rescue and relief activities including first aid for victims, medical evacuation by ground and air transportation, deployment of fire-fighting and engineers for clearing debris and explosive ordnance disposal.
Also participating were units of the Internal Security Forces, Civil Defence, Lebanese Red Cross, teams of the concerned ministries of the Lebanese Government and local NGOs.
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