The Lebanese interior minister said initial reports showed that highly explosive materials, which had been seized years earlier and stored in the area, had exploded.
Family members in Ottawa say they feel helpless as Lebanon’s pandemic and growing economic crisis make it difficult to send aid to loved ones across the country.
WATCH: Explosions at the port of the Lebanese capital on Tuesday afternoon
Maghnam’s cousin lives in the town of Bchamoun on a mountain overlooking the port of Beirut. Even though the city is 10 kilometers away, their apartment was still badly damaged by the explosion, she said.
“Most of the residential buildings in Lebanon are made with a lot of glass,” Maghnam said.
The family, including two young children, are staying with relatives further up the mountains as they try to determine their next steps.
‘I haven’t seen anything like it’
Mohamad Rachidi, a recent graduate of the University of Ottawa, grew up in Lebanon during the 2006 war. He said he had seen difficult things but had never seen “anything of the sort.” Phone”.
“The videos I get from my friends and family in Beirut are devastating, honestly,” he said.
When he heard the news of the explosion, Rachidi immediately retired from work to call relatives in the city.
“Thank goodness everything was fine,” he said.
Some of his extended family suffered property damage, but he said “it doesn’t matter for the health of my family and friends.”
‘Part of me exploded’
Comedian Nathalie Baroud was born in Lebanon but grew up in Ottawa and now lives in Montreal. She said watching videos of the explosion caused her to have a physical reaction.
“I screamed like someone hit me in the stomach,” she said. “I felt like a part of me exploded. ”
She heard from her family and friends in Beirut and learned that they are all fine, she said. But Baroud worries, as the death toll and injury toll continues to rise, there may not be enough help on the ground.
Maghnam said his father would have been one of those helpers if he hadn’t moved to Canada. He was a firefighter during the war in Lebanon and worked in the city’s port area.
She said he was devastated watching the fallout from the blast from afar.
“He feels very helpless, as many Lebanese-Canadians do, not being able to help their loved ones at this time. ”