Aug. 6 (UPI) -- A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III delivered 11 pallets of food, water and medical supplies to Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday to aid with disaster relief following an explosion earlier in the week.
"The U.S. is actively engaged in delivering food, water, and medical supplies to the Lebanese Armed Forces to meet the critical needs of the Lebanese people," Gen. Frank McKenzie, Commander of U.S. Central Command said in a press release from CENTCOM. "We are closely coordinating with the Lebanon Armed Forces, and expect that we will continue to provide additional assistance throughout Lebanon's recovery effort."
Thursday's delivery is the first of three planes of disaster relief shipments McKenzie promised during a phone call with Lebanese Armed Forces Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun to express condolences for the loss of life and devastation in Beirut Tuesday.
According to a readout of that call released by CENTCOM, McKenzie told Aoun the United States is willing to keep working with the Lebanese Armed Forces, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, and USAID to help provide aid and assistance to meet the needs of Lebanese people during the country's recovery effort after an explosion killed 137 people and leveled part of the city Tuesday.
Contradicting President Donald Trump, who said U.S. military officials had told him the blast was caused by "a bomb of some kind," Esper said most officials believed the event was an accident.
An estimated 5,000 people were injured and 300,000 in Tuesday's explosion, which produced a force equivalent to a 3.3-magnitude earthquake.
Beirut Gov. Marwan Abboud estimated that it could cost $3 billion to $5 billion to repair damage from the blast.
France and Britain have also pledged to send aid to Lebanon, where Canada's government has said it will send money to third-party humanitarian organizations rather than provide direct aid to the government.
Lebanese authorities say a warehouse storing ammonium nitrate exploded and ignited a fire near the port in Beirut.
Human Rights Watch has asked for an independent international investigation of the incident, given the government's "repeated failure to investigate serious government failings and the public's distrust of government institutions."