Plea to open heart, purse to Beirut victims
Durban - ISLAMIC Relief South Africa is calling on the country’s citizens to support the people of Lebanon following the explosion in its capital Beirut.
According to reports, at least 200 people died and more than 6000 were injured. These numbers are expected to rise as rescue workers dig through the rubble looking for survivors.
The explosion took place last Tuesday. At 6pm, the roof of a warehouse caught fire. This caused the first explosion followed by a series of smaller blasts.
A nuclear-like explosion followed seconds later, causing a mushroom cloud to billow into the air and a supersonic blast wave into the city.
Michel Aoun, Lebanon’s president, claimed the explosion was caused by 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate that was apparently stored unsafely in a warehouse in the port.
This substance is a crystal-like white solid commonly used as a source of nitrogen for agricultural fertiliser. Combined with fuel oils, it can become explosive.
Raeesa Dalwai, the spokesperson for Islamic Relief South Africa, said the people in Beirut were in agony. She said multitudes were in need of medical assistance, leaving hospitals packed to capacity. Dalwai said many people had been reported missing.
“Reports from Islamic Relief officers in Lebanon, who are on the ground, have portrayed a harrowing picture of a country in agony.
“Rescue workers are working around the clock to locate people buried under the rubble. People are being evacuated as buildings are severely damaged and unsafe.”
Dalwai said the blast had left at least 300000 homeless. People are devastated as the country is now picking up the pieces following the catastrophic event.
Nidal Ali, country director of Islamic Relief Lebanon, reported that the casualty and death rate was anticipated to be higher as bodies were thrown into the sea during the blast.
“We believe Beirut can come out of this with the help of the international community,” Ali said.
Lebanon’s cabinet has declared a two-week State of Emergency following the incident.
This week, Aoun accepted Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s resignation.
Dalwai said it had intensified an already volatile situation in Beirut due to the combined challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, a nationwide lockdown and an incapacitating financial crisis.
“This is seriously impacting on the socio-economic status of people in Lebanon. The country is already struggling with increased power cuts, limited availability of medications, restricted hospital capacity, rising prices of food and basic items, and huge job losses”
She said Islamic Relief teams were on the ground assisting with massive clean-ups and distributing emergency food parcels to vulnerable families across Beirut. They are also doing ongoing assessments to ascertain the immediate and long-term aid required to rebuild the city.
For now, Dalwai said there was an urgent need for food and water among the displaced residents
“Lebanon is a host to refugees from Palestine and Syria, and aid is extended to the refugee community affected by the blast.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa sent a message of solidarity to the people of Beirut.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people and government of Lebanon as they deal with the aftermath of this disaster. We send our deepest condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones,” said Ramaphosa.
For information on how to donate, visit islamic-relief.org.za, call 0800111898 or WhatsApp 0731545369.