Lighting up candles and waving Lebanese flags, Los Angeles residents gathered Sunday for a candlelight vigil to honor those killed in the Beirut explosion.
The event organized by House of Lebanon in the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood of Central L.A. drew a crowd of Lebanese Americans who echoed the sadness of families in the devastated city.
“They were killed in their own homes, at no fault of their own,” said Dina Salem of the Lebanese American Foundation.
Several in attendance Sunday said they have friends and family in Beirut who were directly affected by the blast.
The explosion, which leveled huge swaths of Beirut Tuesday and displaced 300,000 people, couldn’t have come at a worse moment.
Lebanon was already in dire economic straits before the blast wiped out Beirut’s port area and damaged buildings across the city. At least 160 people were killed and dozens remain missing. More than 6,000 people were injured.
Thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate are linked to the catastrophic explosion. Multiple government agencies in Lebanon were repeatedly warned about the substance, described by an analyst as a “floating bomb,” CNN learned.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into Beirut’s Martyr’s Square on Saturday afternoon to speak out against the ruling class of politicians widely held responsible for the explosion.
The U.S. embassy in Beirut voiced support for peaceful protesters. “The Lebanese people have suffered too much and deserve to have leaders who listen to them and change course to respond to popular demands for transparency and accountability,” the embassy tweeted on Saturday night. “We support them in their right to peaceful protest, and encourage all involved to refrain from violence.”
After a traumatic week, many of Beirut’s citizens flooded outside to clean, sweep and help begin the devastated city’s recovery.
The House of Lebanon told Angelenos wishing to help those affected by the blast to donate online.
Here are some options:
- The Lebanese Red Cross is sending every ambulance in the area to Beirut to treat the wounded and help in search-and-rescue operations. You can make a one-time contribution here.
- Impact Lebanon, a nonprofit organization, has set up a crowdfunding campaign to help organizations on the ground, and is helping with sharing information on those still missing after the explosion.
- Baytna Baytak, a charity that provided free housing to health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic, is now raising funds with Impact Lebanon to shelter those displaced.