MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will intensify its efforts to repatriate Filipinos in Beirut, Lebanon, Malacañang said Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the assurance after the DFA confirmed that two Filipinos were killed, eight were injured, and 11 went missing in the massive explosion that ripped through Lebanon’s capital.
“I believe the DFA will intensify our efforts to bring home our kababayan (countrymen) in that war-torn area,” Roque said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
He said the DFA has also issued a series of advisories against working in Lebanon.
DFA Assistant Secretary Eduardo Meñez, in a text message to reporters, said the embassy is now in touch with the Filipino community in Lebanon to assess the situation and provide assistance to affected Filipinos.
Video clips shared on social media showed a powerful blast rocked the Port of Beirut on Tuesday, reportedly killing 78 and wounding more than 3,000 people.
Based on local reports, the explosion was caused by a fire at a warehouse that stored confiscated “high explosive materials”.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun cited ammonium nitrate as the source of the massive explosion, which leveled a three-story building and was heard across the city and its suburbs, according to Anadolu Agency report,
Aoun, in a post on the Lebanese Presidency’s Twitter account, said that keeping 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate at a warehouse without any security measures is unacceptable.
It was the most powerful explosion in years in Beirut, which is already grappling with a surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections.
Lebanese authorities were still investigating the incident.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab vowed that those responsible for the deadly blast would face accountability.
According to DFA, some 33,000 Filipinos are residing in Lebanon, 75 percent of whom are in the Greater Beirut area.
Last January, the DFA urged Filipinos in Lebanon to remain vigilant of security threats following the US attack that killed top Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani. Azer Parrocha /PNA – northboundasia.com