By Vatican News
It’s the second blaze this month, creating havoc and fear in the city that is still reeling after a massive blast and explosion in August.
There were no immediate reports of injuries in the fire that engulfed a building in downtown Beirut on Tuesday morning, and authorities said it is not clear what caused the blaze.
But Beirut residents are traumatized and still in shock from the blast in the port area on August 4th that killed 220 people, injured over 6,000 and displaced about 300,000.
They couldn’t believe it when another large fire broke out five days ago near the city’s port, and today’s fire compounds their deep sense of uncertainty, instability and fear caused by the spiralling economic and political crisis that has brought the nation to its knees.
The seafront building that went up in flames today was the work of late Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid. It had been under construction for years and its curved, futuristic lines had become a prominent feature of Beirut’s central commercial area rebuilt after the 1975-1990 civil war as a sign of hope and rebirth.
Sorrow for the damage wreaked to this building is overshadowed by the tragic August blast, the cause of which is still under investigation.
In the wake of that blast, the government has resigned and the people of Lebanon are struggling to “get by” mired in an unprecedented economic emergency and financial collapse. The crisis is blamed on decades of mismanagement and corruption by an entrenched political class and has led to record unemployment, inflation and the collapse of public services.
Solidarity of the Pope and of the Church
Pope Francis as repeatedly expressed his concern and solidarity for Lebanon and even called for a Day of Prayer and Fasting for the suffering population.
Aloysius John, Secretary-General of Caritas Internationalis is currently in Beirut.
He is scheduled to visit the site of the August blast tomorrow, Wednesday, and he is meeting with the country’s religious leaders including Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï and Bishop Michel Aoun.
He is also there to sustain and give encouragement to the Caritas Lebanon office and its hundreds of volunteers who are working hard to bring relief, distributing food and medicine to the many in need.