2 Pinoys dead in Beirut blast

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    The destruction of the area around the blast site. (Reuters Photo)

    Beirut reels from huge blast, as death toll climbs to at least 100

    The aftermath of the explosion of a Beirut warehouse that had stored tons of explosive nitrates. (Photo by Reuters)

    TWO Filipinos died while eight others were injured and 11 reported missing after massive explosions rocked Lebanon’s capital city of Beirut Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.

    Lebanese authorities said at least 100 people have been killed in the twin explosions that devastated Beirut’s port area.

    “As per latest report from the embassy, two Filipinos have been reported killed and six injured. All were in their employers homes during the explosion,” said Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Ed Menez said.

    “The Philippine Embassy is in touch with the Filipino community in Lebanon to assess the situation and provide assistance to any affected Filipinos,” he added.

    The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Lebanon identified the fatalities as “Bularon” and Perlita Guillermo Mendoza.

    Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III their next of kin of those have been notified and assistance is being extended to the families for the immediate repatriation of remains.

    Two of the eight injured are among 13 crew members of the cruise ship Orient Queen which was docked in the port of Beirut at the time of the explosion. The Orient Queen was reportedly docked 400 meters from the blast zone.

    The DFA said there are about 33,000 Filipinos living and working in Lebanon, 75 percent of whom are in the greater Beirut area.

    Meanwhile, the embassy also advised Filipinos in Lebanon, particularly those in Beirut, to contact them if they need immediate assistance. The embassy may be reached through telephone numbers 03859430, 70858086, 81334836, 71474416 and 70681060.

    Charge d’affaires Ajeet Victor Panemanglor said the embassy is coordinating with the Filipino community and local authorities to determine if there are other Filipinos injured in the blast.

    He said the shock wave of the blast was wide, adding that even those in the embassy located in the suburbs of Beirut felt the shock wave.

    “So, it could be possible that more were injured from the collapsed buildings,” he added.

    In a briefing, DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Sarah Lou Arriola said 11 other Filipinos, mostly seafarers were reported missing.

    “Everything is very fluid. We are looking at all hospitals,” Arriola said, adding that the embassy is in touch with local authorities to help locate the missing Filipinos.

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, in an interview with CNN Philippines, said: “We are one with the families and friends of Filipinos who passed or were injured during the event.”

    “I think the government will continue with its repatriation of nationals who wish to be evacuated from the area. Lebanon as we know is war-torn. We’ve had issued series of advisories against working in Lebanon. I believe the DFA will intensify our efforts to bring home our kababayan in that war-torn area,” he also said. — With Gerard Naval and Jocelyn Montemayor

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