MANILA - The number of Filipinos killed by a cataclysmic blast in Beirut has doubled to 4, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Friday, as the Lebanese capital counted its dead and cleared streets of debris.
The higher death toll "comes as our Embassy personnel work to ascertain the condition of the Filipinos in its jurisdiction," DFA Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola said in a statement.
The DFA said 31 other Filipinos were among thousands injured in Tuesday's blast at Beirut's port that ravaged entire neighborhoods, costing the country billions.
Two Filipinos were in critical condition and one household worker was missing, said the agency.
"Our Embassy officials shall continue to ascertain the condition of our community in Beirut. The DFA reaffirms its commitment to bring the much needed support and assistance to our kababayans specially at this hour of need," Arriola said.
Lebanese authorities said the massive explosion was triggered by a fire igniting 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at Beirut's port.
But many questions have been raised as to how such a huge cargo of highly explosive material could have been left unsecured for years.
Lebanon's foreign minister announced Thursday that an investigating committee had been given 4 days to determine responsibility for the devastating explosion.
Yet most of the members of this committee are high-ranking officials who command little trust from the people and many relatives of the blast's victims have been calling for foreign investigators.
The explosion -- which left an estimated 300,000 people temporarily homeless, injured around 5,000 people, and killed around 130 -- struck when Lebanon was already battling rampant inflation and rising poverty.
-- With a report from Agence France-Presse