Beirut blast: Ways to help in Ottawa, plus signs of solidarity as community mourns
OTTAWA -- Ottawa mayor Jim Watson says the OTTAWA sign on York Street in the ByWard Market will light up in the colours of the Lebanese flag Wednesday and Thursday nights in solidarity with the people of Beirut, following a massive explosion on Tuesday.
More than 130 people were killed and more than 5,000 were wounded when a warehouse fire led to a gigantic explosion that destroyed much of the Lebanese capital city's port and caused widespread damage across the city. Thousands of tons of highly volatile fertilizer had been stored in the warehouse for years prior to the blast.
Watson says the city's thoughts go out to the people affected by the catastrophe.
On Tuesday, Ottawa city councillor Eli El-Chantiry, who grew up in Lebanon and still has family there, called the news 'heartbreaking.'
"I still have a lot of family back there and in a country as fragile as Lebanon, you can't help but think of all the people, the thousands of injured, the death, the children. I've never seen anything like it," he said.
Speaking on the CTV News at Noon, Ahmad Araji, the president of the Lebanese Club of Ottawa said his cousin's family has been hospitalized after the blast shattered their home.
"There are honestly no words to describe what he or any Lebanese person is going through right now," he said.
Araji said seeing images of the blast triggered a flood of emotions.
"I was mad, I was sad, I was frustrated," he said. "You go through a moment where you just give up. I was at a loss for words."
He said the Lebanese Club of Ottawa has launched a local fundraiser via GoFundMe to direct money to the Red Cross in Lebanon to help the victims of the blast.
Other ways to help
To donate to the Lebanese Red Cross click here.
For a list of local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Lebanon click here.
To donate to the Beit el Baraka organization click here.