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Injured Filipinos in Beirut blast rise to 24; one still missing

Ermie Enriquez has yet to recover from her shock.

“The deafening blast happened just less than five minutes after I went down to meet the customer. All the glasses in our salon were shattered,” she said in a chat via Messenger.

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Enriquez, 35, works in Beirut, Lebanon, near the site where a massive explosion killed at least 135 people and injured thousands on Tuesday. Two Filipino women employed as domestic helpers were among the fatalities, while another was still missing, according to the Philippine Embassy in Beirut. Eleven Filipino seafarers who were initially reported missing have been found safe, it said.

The number of injured Filipinos rose to 24, one of whom was reported seriously hurt.

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There are about 33,000 Filipinos in Lebanon, mostly household service workers.

A native of Tacloban City, Enriquez said she was on the second floor of her workplace before the blast when a Filipina coworker asked her to go down to a waiting customer. They and the other workers were able to hide to safety at the building’s basement.

They felt a “very strong shaking of the ground” before the explosion, Enriquez said.

Saved by customer

“My regular lady customer saved me. Otherwise, I will be returning to the Philippines in a coffin. This is to me, my worst experience ever,” she said.

Enriquez said the husband of her woman employer remained missing while the latter’s brother died in the explosion. The two were in a restaurant near the port when the incident happened, she said.

“We don’t want to bother her at this time as she is mourning the death of her brother and her husband is still missing,” she said.

Some of the 11 Filipino seafarers were brought to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries, according to the Philippine Embassy’s charge d’affaires, Ajeet Panemanglor.

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Panemanglor said he and the other staff members saw the explosion from the window of the embassy, though it was far from the city center, and felt the shock wave.

Seafarers safe

The seafarers were among a group of 13 from the cruise ship MV Orient Queen that was docked in the port of Beirut. They jumped into the water and somehow made it to shore.

Lebanon President Michel Aoun said the explosion was caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that were stored in a warehouse at the port.

Panemanglor said the Filipinos, including two women, were staying in a hotel arranged by their company.

He said the case of the missing Filipina domestic helper was reported to them by another Filipino.

The embassy official said the families of the two dead Filipinos were already contacted and were given assurance that their bodies would be brought home once government offices reopen.

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TAGS: Beirut, Blast, Death Toll, DFA, embassy, Explosion, injured, Lebanon, missing, ofws, Philippines, tragedy
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