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Beirut blast kills 100 people, including 2 OFWs

05 August 2020

By The SUN
 
The Beirut blast that flattened many buildings and killed about 100 people 

Two overseas Filipino workers are among an estimated 100 people killed in an explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday, and left eight other Filipinos wounded and 11 missing, Malacañang reported today, Aug 5.

The massive blast at the Lebanese capital’s port area left some 4,000 people wounded
and devastated a large part of the district, state-run media reported, citing the Red Cross.

Georges Kettaneh, the secretary-general of the Lebanese Red Cross, told Lebanon’s National News Agency on Wednesday that the disaster is “unprecedented and very large.”

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Lebanese Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi told a local TV station it appeared the blast was caused by more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate that detonated in a warehouse where it had been stored ever since it was confiscated from a cargo ship in 2014.

Video footage of the explosion showed thick gray smoke billowing from a low-rise building next to the port. Within seconds, the smoke turned brick red and orange as the ground exploded, sending up a mushroom cloud several hundred feet into the air like a nuclear explosion.

The explosion flattened a wide swath of buildings and wrecked the front side of a skyscraper on the waterfront. 



In Manila, the Philippine government extended condolences to the families of the two OFWs who died in the blast, and expressed sadness that eight others were wounded, and 11 are still missing. 

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar also promised government assistance to those who were wounded.

“We condole with the families of the two Filipino workers who perished in the tragic accident in Beirut, and pray for the fast recovery of those eight injured, some of them seriously, and still under treatment at various hospitals in that part of Lebanon,” Bello said in a statement.
“We also note with sadness that 11 others of our OFWs, all sea-based workers docked at the port of Beirut, are still unaccounted for,” Bello said.

He added that the labor department is coordinating closely with Beirut authorities to locate them and work for their safe return to the Philippines if they decide to do so.

Andanar issued a separate statement that assured help from the government for all the victims of the tragedy.

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“We assure everyone that our government is ensuring the safety of our OFWs there through the Philippine Embassy in Beirut and that concerned government agencies are providing the assistance their families need,” Andanar said.
 
Sacular showing off her injured head and hands in a Facebook post 
One of those injured was OFW Melda Sacular, who said she was in her room when the explosion happened. She said part of her scalp was sliced by a shard from the glass door in her employer’s house. Both her hands were also injured.

Even her employer was injured in the head, Sacular said.


She said she had just finished wiping the door when she saw the explosion in the port area and ran for cover. Suddenly, their door was blown out.

“Naliligo ako sa dugo pagkatapos lumipad ang salamin na pinto,” she said in a live selfie video she posted on Facebook.

Rescuers came to the house after awhile and took the maid and her employer to the hospital. She thanked her rescuers who also assisted many other people who also needed help.

Jehanie Silva Macuro said her cousin Bheng Arguelles was badly shaken during the blast.

“My whole body is still shaking until now,” Arguelles said in a message to friends.
“Lahat ng front glass door (and) window basag.”

Macuro said Argeuelles has been working in Beirut for more than two years.

As of Dec 31 last year, there were 34,000 Filipinos in Lebanon, the fourth biggest migrant community behind Ethiopians, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans.

The late Ambassador Bernardita Catalla, who had been consul general in Hong Kong for three years, served as the country’s top envoy to Lebanon until her death from Covid-19 early this year.


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