At least four Filipinos died, two others were missing, and 42 more were injured in the explosion that hit Lebanon last week.
The Philippines’ Foreign Affairs department announced that the remains of the four Filipinos would be brought home on August 16.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola said the bodies of the victims would be flown on a chartered flight for migrant Filipino workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“This chartered flight is the most concrete, immediate, and timely assistance that the Department of Foreign Affairs could provide given the current situation in Lebanon,” said Arriola.
About 400 overseas Filipino workers in Lebanon are expected to arrive in the Philippines this week.
Authorities said about 230 OFWs, who were displaced due to the pandemic, were scheduled to fly home.
Another 170 workers expressed their desire to be repatriated after the explosion last week, said Ajeet-Victor Panemanglor, charge d’affaires of the Philippine Embassy in Beirut.
He said the Philippines is in contact with the Lebanese government for the processing of exit visas of the migrant workers.
The Philippine government has already repatriated more than 1,500 Filipino from Lebanon since December last year.
There are an estimated 33,000 Filipinos living and working in Lebanon, about 75 percent of whom are residing in Beirut.
On August 4, an estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored in a Beirut Port hangar had blown up, killing more than 150 people and wounding about 6,000.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, vice chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Philippine Catholic bishops’ conference appealed to Filipinos to welcome the migrant workers from Lebanon “as heroes.”
“Let us be the biblical cedar of Lebanon, strong and rising. Lebanon will stand up straight and strong from destruction. And likewise with our OFWs,” said the prelate.
The prelate urged the government “to prioritize” the returning OFWs from Lebanon in its cash assistance programs for those who are affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Let us continue our prayers and offering of Holy Masses for Lebanon, especially the healing of 42 Filipinos and recovery of the missing two,” said Bishop Santos.