Two military aircraft of the Qatar Amiri Air Force, carrying materials to setup two field hospitals, arrived in Italy Wednesday upon the directives of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
This came "in support of the efforts of Italian friends" to confront and contain the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) said.
The two planes carrying the "hospitals' landed consecutively at Pratica di Mare military airport near the capital, Rome, and Verona Villafranca Airport.
Qatari and Italian officials at the airport on the arrival of the Amiri Airforce aircraft
The area of the first field hospital is about 5,200sqm, while the second one measures about 4,000sqm, with a combined capacity of 1,000 beds. The hospitals are to be equipped with modern technical devices for the treatment of people infected with coronavirus.
The military technical team that arrived along with the Qatari medical aid at Pratica di Mare military airport was received by Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio, Qatar's ambassador to Italy Abdulaziz bin Ahmed al-Malki al-Jehni, Qatari military attaché in Italy General Hilal bin Ali al-Mohannadi and commander of the Pratica di Mare military airport, General Rosso Alberto.
Materials being unloaded from the planes
Welcoming the gesture, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio in a tweet said the aircraft carrying two field hospitals donated by Qatar to Italy have just landed.
Upon the arrival of the two military aircraft, the Qatari ambassador said: "In a concrete way, Qatar wants to show that it is close to Italy during this difficult time. We will get out of this emergency and we will do it together!"
Qatar will deliver more medical aid with a number of additional flights, and some of the materials are expected to arrive in Italy on two more flights Thursday. A fifth aircraft with medical equipment sent in collaboration with Qatar Fund for Development and the Qatar Armed Forces, will arrive Friow.
Meanwhile, former Italian ambassador to Qatar Pasquale Salzano tweeted that he was moved to see "how generously our friends in Qatar have decided to come to our aid in this moment of great difficulty for Italy. I had a big thank you when I left Doha in December but I feel like doing it today, again, with emotion".
Earlier, Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas - along with Di Maio - had expressed gratitude to Qatar for sending medical assistance to Italy to support its efforts in the fight against Covid-19.
“I would like to join the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio, in his expression of gratitude to the State of Qatar for its timely and generous donation of two field hospitals with a capacity of 500 beds each,” the envoy had said in a statement. “It is a tangible gesture of friendship between the Italian and Qatari people and a strong support for Italy’s efforts to fight the pandemic.”