Witnesses compare explosion to an “atomic bomb.”
Konigstein/Montreal Wednesday, August 5, 2020—An emergency food package of $362,500 is to be rushed out to Beirut by a leading Catholic charity in the wake of the huge explosion yesterday (Tuesday, August 4).
The Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) grant will go to support poor families most affected by the blast which devastated the port area of the Lebanese capital, Beirut.
As of now, reports indicate the blast killed at least 100 people and left another 4,000 injured when 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse exploded.
Speaking from Beirut, ACN project partner Father Raymond Abdo told the pontifical charity: “The explosion felt like an atomic bomb with red smoke everywhere and huge damage.”
Damage to Christian Quarter more extensive than that of the civil war
ACN Lebanon expert Father Samer Nassif, said the area populated with Christians in Beirut was “completely devastated?” The devastation so far counts at least 10 churches destroyed, 300,000 people left homeless, and many others suffering, with livelihoods “totally destroyed.” “Yesterday in one second, more damage to the Christian quarter of Beirut was done than throughout the long years of the civil war,” he said. “We have to build it again from the ground up.”
Fathers Abdo and Nassif said that, after the long-running economic crisis and the coronavirus, Lebanon is ill-equipped to deal with the emergency and urgently needed international help for the people’s basic needs.
In “An Appeal to the Countries of the World” sent today (Wednesday, August 5), Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, President of the Conference of Patriarchs and Catholic Bishops of Lebanon, said: “Beirut is a devastated city. Beirut, the fiancée of the East and the beacon of the West, is wounded,” stated the Patriarch. “It’s a war scene—there is destruction and desolation in all its streets, its districts and its houses.”
Father Abdo described how at a convent not far from his monastery, a sick, elderly religious Sister died from her injuries in the blast. The Carmelite priest said she was the only one not in the convent dining room at the time of the blast and, had the others been in their rooms, many would have died or been seriously wounded.
Aid to the Church in Need is appealing for prayer for the victims and their families.
* Image of explosion in Beirut (courtesy of Father Samer Nassir)