By CNS and CW staff writers
Pontiff appeals to international community to do all it can
After a massive fire triggered a deadly explosion in Beirut, Pope Francis called for prayers and a united effort to help Lebanon overcome “this serious crisis” while in Australia, local Maronite Catholics launched a special disaster appeal.
“Let us pray for the victims and their family members, and let us pray for Lebanon so that with the effort of everyone in society — political and religious — it may face this tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the serious crisis it is experiencing,” the pope said on 5 August at the end of his general audience.
The morning after a devastating explosion rocked the city’s port area on 4 August, at least 100 people were reported dead, more than 4,000 others were injured, and more than 100 people were missing. Rescue workers continued to search for survivors under the rubble.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said the blast was caused by thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse that had caught fire.
The shock waves from the explosion flattened nearby structures, shattered glass and shook buildings throughout the city in the tiny Mediterranean nation already devastated by the coronavirus and its worst financial crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
A recent report by the UN World Food Program said almost 50 per cent of Lebanese citizens, along with 63 per cent of Palestinian refugees and 75 per cent of Syrian refugees in the country, were worried about whether they could find enough food.
In Australia, a special appeal has been launched by charity Maronites on Mission in collaboration with the Maronite Eparchy and other charitable organisations based in Beirut.
The Beirut Disaster Relief Appeal aims to provide urgent assistance to the people most affected by the explosion, which has left an estimated 300,000 people homeless.