By Sarah Mac Donald - 05 August, 2020
The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin has expressed solidarity with the people of Beirut following Tuesday’s massive explosion in the Lebanese capital which killed more than 50 people and injured more than 2,750.
Officials in Lebanon have said they expect the death toll to rise further as emergency workers dig through rubble and remove the dead.
President Michel Aoun has declared a three-day period of mourning.
An investigation is underway to find the cause of the explosion. Some officials have blamed the unsafe storage of tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which is highly explosive, at a warehouse in the port.
The blast occurred at 6pm local time and hours later a fire was still burning and victims were being taken to medical facilities outside Beirut as hospitals in the city were unable to cope with the numbers.
People on the island of Cyprus, which lies 180km across the Mediterranean Sea from Beirut, heard the blast. One resident in Nicosia said his house and window shutters shook.
The blast happened close to the scene of a massive car bomb attack in Beirut’s port area in 2005 which killed the former prime minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others.
It comes three days before a court in the Netherlands is due to deliver a verdict in the trial of four suspects from the Hezbollah Shia group over that bombing.
Lebanese prime minister, Hassan Diab, called for international help. “I make an urgent appeal to friendly and brotherly countries… to stand by Lebanon and to help us heal our deep wounds.”
The country is in turmoil over the current economic crisis, the worst since the 1975-1990 civil war.
In his statement, Archbishop Michael Jackson said he was speaking on behalf of the United Dioceses of Dublin & Glendalough, which has a friendship link with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, which includes Lebanon.
“The Diocese of Jerusalem is centred in Jerusalem and includes a range of communities who are in danger and distress. Beirut is one of these communities.”
“I have had the privilege of being welcomed into the life of that community on a number of occasions.”
“All of us are aware of the fragility of human life, its survival and its integrity. My prayer is for all the people of Beirut that they will find comfort at this time and that human dignity and respect will flourish in a situation where peace is a virtue and grace is neighbourliness.”
“In Dublin & Glendalough we pray with our sisters and brothers in solidarity, in hope and in love.”
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