Beirut Explosion deeply impacts Orthodox Christians in that city
On Tuesday evening, August 4, just after 6:00 pm local time, a massive explosion occurred in the port area of Beirut, Lebanon. The explosion has been traced to 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse in the port area. The port area, along with neighboring sections of the city, has been devastated. At the time of this writing, 137 persons have been confirmed dead, and thousands more are injured. Searches are ongoing, in the wreckage and debris, for other victims. An estimated 300,000 people have been rendered homeless.
Among the damaged buildings and institutions is Saint George Hospital University Medical Center, a non-profit teaching hospital that operates under the patronage of the Orthodox Christian bishop of Beirut, His Eminence Metropolitan Elias. (Metropolitan Elias is a graduate of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, here in the United States.) The hospital is located in the port area of Beirut, and was the hospital closest to the blast’s epicenter. The main hospital building is so badly damaged that it has been completely evacuated, with all the patients being transferred to other hospitals, further away from where the explosion took place.Also badly damaged is Saint George Orthodox Cathedral, which is located in the port area of Beirut, too. One image on the Cathedral’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SaintGeorgeCathedralBeirut/ shows one of the massive doors of the Cathedral blown off its hinges, and lying thirty or forty feet inside the building. The Cathedral is the oldest extant Church in Beirut, dating to the 18th century.
Fr. John and Macrina Hopko’s (Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Terryville, CT.) classmate at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Fr. Philip Said, is an Orthodox priest serving in Beirut. He and his family are all safe and healthy following the explosion, but Fr. Philip reports that the situation in Beirut is dire. This explosion comes at a time when the economy in Lebanon has been suffering terribly, and at a time when COVID-19 is a deeply serious problem in the city. Lebanon was already in a deep crisis, and now this explosion has destroyed the country’s main port, where vital food and medicine imports arrive in the country.
To contribute to Beirut Relief, please, visit the IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities) website at: