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Lebanese Londoners worry for loved ones 1 year after blast in Beirut | CBC News

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One year after a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, members of London’s Lebanese community gathered in Gibbons Park on Sunday to remember the victims, and to raise funds for those rebuilding from the fallout

On Aug. 4, 2020, a massive explosion of more than 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in Beirut’s port killed at least 214 people, including two Canadians, and injured thousands more. It was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history. 

The ammonium nitrate had been stored for six years in a warehouse, without proper safety measures, after having been confiscated by the Lebanese authorities from an abandoned ship. 

Questions about the cause of the blast remain, even after charges have been laid against the country’s prime minister at the time, along with three former ministers.

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The tragedy sent Lebanon’s already unstable economy into further despair. The country has seen a devastating currency crash, hyperinflation and widespread shortages. 

“It’s probably the worst that you can imagine, and will continue to get worse,” said Dr. Majed Fiaani, president of the Lebanese Cultural Club of London. “What I really can’t believe is that basic medications are not available even for poor people and people who are on diabetes…then there is a fuel crisis and food crisis and currency problems and no jobs.” 

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Fianni said that the Lebanese Cultural Club of London has partnered with WorldVision to help send donations to the people of Lebanon. 

From left to right: Richard Chapman (philanthropic advisor for WorldVision), Dr. Majed Fiaani (president of the Lebanese Cultural Club of London), London Mayor Ed Holder, businessman Mohamad Fakih, and Assaad Eldik (treasurer of the Lebanese Cultural Club of London). (Angela McInnes/CBC )

 

The club organized Sunday’s 2 km walk through Gibbons Park to honour the victims, and raise awareness of the ongoing crisis. 

Businessman Mohamad Fakih said he was in Lebanon three days after the blast occurred. He visited again last month. 

He said that the people are desperate as international attention fades. 

“There are some businesses reopening there. They’ve been repaired, but their hearts are broken,” said Fakih. “Their money’s worth nothing. And there is no supplies of food, medication or anything. They are all lining up on embassies just to leave.” 

London Mayor Ed Holder attended Sunday’s event as well. 

“When I imagine Beirut, I think of a world class city and sometimes people need a hand up,” said Holder.

“Sometimes they need inspiration. Sometimes they need hope. What today’s walk does, it truly is a walk to remember, and it’s intended to give those folks hope in a world where it’s easy to lose it.” 

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