The Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Philippine bishops’ conference has offered prayers and Masses for Lebanon which was rocked by explosions on Tuesday, August 4.
“Our hearts are with them, one with Lebanon in spirits and prayers,” said Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, vice chairman of the commission.
“We offer our Holy Masses for their strength, recovery and continued faith in God,” he said, adding that the commission particularly prays for those who perished due to the incident and the families they left behind.
“It is very sad, tragic news,” said the bishop. “We implore God’s mercy to those … who perished. God grants them eternal rest.”
“May those left behind find comfort with God,” he said as he also prayed for the healing of those injured.
“We intercede to God’s power healing and remedy to those who are injured,” prayed the bishop as he asked everyone to be united in helping and assisting those in need.
Reports said that a powerful blast in port warehouses near central Beirut storing highly explosive material killed 78 people, injured nearly 4,000 and sent seismic shockwaves that shattered windows, smashed masonry and shook the ground across the Lebanese capital.
Officials said they expected the death toll to rise further as emergency workers dug through rubble to rescue people and remove the dead.
It was the most powerful explosion in years in Beirut, which is already reeling from an economic crisis and a surge in coronavirus infections.
President Michel Aoun said that 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilizers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures, and said it was “unacceptable”.
He called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared.
“What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe,” the head of Lebanon’s Red Cross George Kettani told broadcaster Mayadeen. “There are victims and casualties everywhere.”
Hours after the blast, which struck shortly after 6 p.m., a fire still blazed in the port district, casting an orange glow across the night sky as helicopters hovered and ambulance sirens sounded across the capital.
A security source said victims were taken for treatment outside the city because Beirut hospitals were overwhelmed with wounded. Ambulances from the north and south of the country and the Bekaa valley to the east were called in to help.
The explosion occurred three days before a U.N.-backed court is due to deliver a verdict in the trial of four suspects from the Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah over a 2005 bombing which killed former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and 21 others.
Hariri was killed by a huge truck bomb on the same waterfront, about 2 km from the port.
With reports from Reuters