San Diego man loses friend in Beirut explosion


SAN DIEGO — Support for Lebanon is pouring in from all over the world after a deadly explosion in Beirut Tuesday, including in San Diego where the tragedy hit close to home for the Lebanese community.

“I was just silent. I was numb,” said Joseph Sfeir.

The death toll was nearing 100 by Tuesday evening and still being updated with injuries in the thousands following the big blast.

“Videos that I received from my friends in Lebanon, they’re just awful. You find body parts in the streets, sirens, people are screaming,” said Sfeir.

Sfeir, a San Diego resident, was born in Lebanon and still has many family members and friends there. He lost one friend in the explosion.

“I found out that a good friend of mine was killed because his office is probably about five or six blocks from the blast and the wall behind his desk just fell on him.”

A devastating disaster in a country already under economic turmoil and in the midst of a political revolution that began last fall.

Lebanon’s president says the explosion in the port of Beirut was caused by nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse for six years without any safety measures.

“The port is under the surveillance the security the monitoring by the government, so whatever goes in and out is monitored by the government,” said Sfeir.

Sfeir says House of Lebanon, the organization he is a part of, as well as a number of others in San Diego have been fundraising and sending money to Lebanon for at least the last four months because of the ongoing economic hardship there and they will continue to do so.

“Revolutions take some times bigger events to happen for them to just kick off again and I think that’s going to happen because people cannot take it anymore,” said Sfeir, adding “I can tell you the community here in San Diego is angry not just sad, but also angry. They want to do something, but unfortunately right now that’s how it is in Lebanon.”

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