Update on Devastation in Beirut, Horrific Impact

National Catholic Register, Peter Jesserer Smith: A terrifying chemical explosion in Beirut’s harbor felt as far away as Cyprus has shattered the city and ripped a hole in the heart of Lebanon.

Scores of men and women are now dead and thousands more injured. The government’s preliminary report has ruled out terrorism or an act of war, but blamed a warehouse fire that reached highly explosive chemicals left unsecured for six years in the port and detonated them with such force it left a brief mushroom cloud to hang over the city.

Michel Constantin, regional director for the Beirut-based office of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), a Pontifical Mission, told the Register in a mobile phone interview no one has experienced this kind of explosive destruction in Lebanon — even in wartime. Report is here.