Philippines expresses solidarity with Lebanon after massive blasts

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 05 2020 04:01 PM

Lebanese firefighters work at the scene of an explosion in the Lebanese capital Beirut on Aug. 4, 2020. Two huge explosions rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut, wounding dozens of people, shaking buildings and sending huge plumes of smoke billowing into the sky. Lebanese media carried images of people trapped under rubble, some bloodied, after the massive explosions. Anwar Amro, AFP

MANILA - The Philippines on Wednesday expressed solidarity with Lebanon following twin explosions that rocked Beirut and killed 
some 100 people, including at least 2 Filipinos.

"The Philippines is in solidarity with the people of Lebanon in this period of great grief. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lebanese people," President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

Malacañang also condoled with families of the two Filipinos who died in the blasts.

The 2 Filipino household service workers died inside their employers' homes when the explosions occurred. At least 8 other Filipinos were injured and 12 are missing, the Department of Foreign Affairs said, citing information from the Philippine Embassy. 

"We are one with the families and friends of Filipinos who passed or were injured during the event," Roque said.

The Philippines is preparing to mount a repatriation flight to bring home Filipinos with exit visas and the remains of migrant workers by weekend at the earliest, DFA Undersecretary Sarah Arriola said.

The explosions were due to 2,750 tons of agricultural fertilizer ammonium nitrate that had been stored for years in a portside warehouse, sparking "a disaster in every sense of the word," Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said. 

"What happened today will not pass without accountability," said Diab. "Those responsible for this catastrophe will pay the price."

The blasts were so massive they shook the entire city of Beirut and could be heard throughout the small country, and as far away as Nicosia on the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, 240 kilometers away. 

The explosions also dealt extensive damage to the Baabda Palace, the official residence of the Lebanese president.

Lebanon is home to some 31,916 Filipinos, of whom more than 10,000 are undocumented migrants. -with a report from Agence France-Presse