Israeli warplanes on Thursday shelled a purported Hezbollah leadership bunker in south Beirut as thousands more foreigners fled war-affected Lebanon.
The warplanes dropped more than 20 tons of explosives on the purported Hezbollah leadership bunker on the deadliest day of the bombardment which began after the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah guerrillas.
Hezbollah said none of its members had been killed by the intense Israeli bombing, which the Israeli army said was carried out by 20 planes on the site of a purported Hezbollah leadership "bunker."
Concerns mounted over the humanitarian crisis, with the United Nations warning of an impending "catastrophe" as Israel's bombing campaign killed 72 people on Wednesday, the bloodiest day since the attacks began a week earlier.
Thousands more foreigners, mostly westerners, were being evacuated by sea from Beirut to Cyprus, fleeing the Israel-Hezbollah hostilities that have killed more than 300 people and displaced an estimated half a million others.
More than 1,000 foreigners, mainly Americans, arrived in Cyprus from Beirut on a chartered cruise liner, with U.S. diplomats planning to evacuate some 6,000 nationals from Lebanon by Friday.
Britain is also planning to evacuate about 5,000 nationals by the end of the week.
A Russian Emergencies Ministry plane brought 130 Russians and 32 citizens from Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova to Moscow on Wednesday. A second plane is expected to move out more evacuees on Thursday.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday he plans to go to Cyprus on board a government plane to help evacuate Canadians from Lebanon.
Other countries, including Mexico, Turkey, Bulgaria and Denmark also went on with the evacuation of their citizens from Lebanon on Wednesday.
With still no sign of a ceasefire in sight, international diplomatic efforts continued to help end the current crisis in the Middle East.
The European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Wednesday that the EU, along with the concerned parties, would try its best to end the current crisis in the Middle East as soon as possible.
"We have a sentiment of tragedy, which urges all of us to do all we can to stop what was going on as soon as possible," Solana told reporters after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza city over the intensive Israeli offensives in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will address the Security Council Thursday on the situation in the Middle East, UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown announced Wednesday.
The secretary-general "didn't want the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Lebanon and Gaza to go unnoted by us in the meantime," Brown told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Solana were reportedly to go to meet in New York on Thursday with Annan, who has proposed the creation of an international force to restore calm in Lebanon.
Expressing concerns about the humanitarian situation in Lebanon, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said perpetrators in the conflict could be held accountable for war crimes.