Lebanon (MNN) — Shock remains in Lebanon following yesterday’s catastrophic blast in Beirut. The explosion shook buildings hundreds of feet away, and the death toll continues to rise.
“This [was] a massive, massive explosion that shook almost every building in downtown Beirut,” Heart for Lebanon’s Tom Atema says.
Initially, government reports blamed a ship carrying fireworks for the explosion. Others suspect an Israeli attack. Israeli officials quickly denied any involvement yesterday; Lebanese officials later placed blame on a forgotten storehouse of explosive chemicals.
At the time of publishing, it’s still not clear what started the fire that set off the explosion.
“The tensions have been rising between Israel and Lebanon, especially in the last few days. Last Monday, there was a ‘mini-war’ between Israel and Hezbollah at the southern border of Lebanon; there was a lot of shelling,” says Nuna of Beirut-based Triumphant Mercy.
Yesterday, near the capital city seaport, “[There] was a huge, huge explosion that was felt all over the place. Everything shook, and then we heard a blast. We think an Israeli plane came and blasted these containers with lots of bombs inside,” Nuna continues.
“The ground shook; we went outside, and I heard a plane. Some people say ‘no, this is only the rumbling of whatever’, but I’m not sure… I don’t know exactly what way this is going, but definitely this is a strong message to Iran, to Hezbollah, and to anyone who is coming against Israel.”
Doubts remain, Atema agrees, “But we really don’t know yet,” he says.
“We all have our suspicions because of aircraft that was going overhead not only today but in the last couple of days.”
Picking up the pieces in Beirut
Atema says the days ahead will be difficult. “This massive explosion has set the wheat supply on fire in Lebanon, and Lebanon is a bread culture,” he explains.
“We thought the starvation problem was a big problem, and we were gearing up to it. Now, all of a sudden, we have something that has tripled the urgency of that.”
Triumphant Mercy and Heart for Lebanon workers share Christ as they provide emergency relief to those in need. “We are passing out food parcels and blankets; we’re doing as much as we can at the moment for the people in need” in downtown Beirut, Atema says.
Initial damage assessments began last night for Triumphant Mercy. “In our church, we had glass shattered; the ceilings [were] falling down, the doors of the church blasted completely open,” Nuna says.
“Many, many relatives [and] people that we know had their homes destroyed, cars destroyed. [Some] went to the hospital with injuries.”
Find your place in the story
“We need God to intervene because this is not done by human hands. No, we need something to shift,” Nuna says.
“We need the atmosphere to be cleared of these demonic powers that are working here. I really need prayer for that.”
Header image depicts Lebanese news coverage of the Beirut explosion. Photo courtesy of Nuna/Triumphant Mercy.