• Melo Acuna

Beirut explosion claims two Domestic workers' lives

Two Filipino workers dead, 12 others missing in Beirut blast

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed the deaths of two female domestic workers while 12 others have remained missing as the powerful explosion took place at 6:00 P.M. local time (11:00 P.M. Manila time) at the Port District in Beirut, Lebanon.

In a virtual press briefing, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Y. Arriola said they have instructed their staff in Beirut to check with the Filipino Community in the area and check who among the 31,916 overseas Filipinos in Lebanon would need help.

“The two fatalities were domestic workers who were in their workplaces at the time of their deaths,” she said. She declined the identify the fatalities pending notification of their relatives in the Philippines. Eight have been reported injured but one is in serious condition.

Eleven of the missing Filipinos were seafarers whose ship, MV Orient Queen, was docked at the Port of Beirut. They jumped ship for fear their vessel would sink. The DFA learned of the incident after two others jumped ship proceeded to the Philippine Embassy to report their experience.

Another Filipina domestic worker has remained missing as of this writing.

“There were more Filipinos, 33,424 in Lebanon before the Philippine Government began repatriating them from December 2019 to about March 13,2020. We resumed repatriation last June,” said Undersecretary Arriola. She explained most Filipinos in Lebanon are undocumented because the DFA has not processed application for work visas. Others reached Lebanon due to human trafficking. To date, there are 230 requests for repatriation from overseas Filipinos in Lebanon even prior to the explosion.

“The situation is still very fluid. We will update you every four to six hours as soon as the Philippine Embassy in Beirut apprises us,” she added.

Undersecretary Arriola said they have been in touch with Ministry of Health and International Red Crescent officials through the Philippine Embassy.

Asked if the DFA will send a Quick Reaction Team to the devastated city, Undersecretary Arriola said they are still studying the situation. (Melo M. Acuña)

Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Y. Arriola in a virtual press briefing on the status of overseas Filipinos in Lebanon. (Screen grab from DFA Zoom Account)

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