Winnipeg’s Lebanese community reacts to Beirut explosion

Winnipeg’s Lebanese community is trying to come to grips with a massive explosion in the country’s capital of Beirut on Tuesday.

Videos of the explosion show a huge blast followed by thick smoke rising over the city.

George Chamaa, who was born in Beirut and now lives in Winnipeg, said friends told him a large area has been impacted by the blast.

“My friends in Beirut city, they said that not even one (piece of) glass within (a radius of) five kilometres … is holding in Beirut,” Chamaa said.

Read more: Beirut explosion: More than 70 killed after blast shakes Lebanon’s capital

As of Tuesday afternoon, Health Minister Hamad Hasan told Reuters at least 78 people are dead and nearly 4,000 were injured in the blast.

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The deadly explosions comes as Lebanon is experiencing its worst economic and financial crisis in decades and rising tensions between Israel and the militant Hezbollah group along Lebanon’s southern border.

Chamaa said he hears about the issues regularly from his family still living back home.

“I’m in touch with them on a daily basis and every day it’s getting worse and worse,” Chamaa said.

Rami Aboumrad, who was born in Canada but has family in Lebanon, said he was shocked by the videos of the explosion.

“It was pretty scary,” Aboumrad said. “Whatever they need, we’ll try to help.

“Right now Lebanon is going through a crisis, even beforehand, and everybody is trying to help each other out as much as we can.”

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It’s not clear if any Canadians are among those injured in the explosion.

Both Chamaa and Abourmrad say they aren’t aware of any victims they know personally.

— With files from Katie Dangerfield, Reuters and the Associated Press

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