Remains of OFW fatalities in Beirut blast arrive home

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2020 07:54 PM | Updated as of Aug 19 2020 03:54 PM

Pedro Serohijos cries as he receives on Monday the body of his daughter Babylyn at the airport cargo warehouse in Pasay City. The younger Serohijos was among four Filipinos who died in the catastrophic explosion in Beirut, Lebanon on Aug. 4 that claimed the lives of close to 200 people and injured thousands. ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The remains of 4 Filipino migrant workers who died in the twin blasts that rocked Lebanon's capital arrived in Manila on Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

The flight arrived 12:55 p.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, the agency 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.

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.

Some 386 overseas Filipino workers were also repatriated and the bodies of four other OFWs were brought home via Qatar Airways flight QR 3150, the DFA said.

The returning Filipinos underwent registration, verification, and swab tests for the coronavirus before they were assigned to their quarantine facility as they await their results. 

They would receive their negative results via email, along with the electronic copy of their quarantine certificate which they can use to exit the facility and go back to their respective provinces.

Locsin appealed to local governments not to subject the returning Filipinos to a repeat of the process, saying they would already undergo isolation.

“People are swabbed, tested, they will be quarantined. When they come out, there are those who are well will go home, I ask the local governments to please not repeat the ordeal they are going through,” he said.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Arriola said the agency would mount another chartered flight from Beirut for distressed Filipinos who expressed their desire to be repatriated but could not be accommodated on this flight. 

For assistance, the Philippine Embassy in Beirut may be reached at +961-5-953519 or via [email protected]

Relatives of Filipinos in Lebanon may also provide the DFA with the latest information regarding the migrant worker's next-of-kin such as current location and contact details. 

Those who wish to do so may call the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs at (02) 8834-4996 or the 24/7 ATN Hotline: 09674421825 / 09083442070.

Prior to the blasts and the COVID-19 pandemic, the DFA began its repatriation activities from Lebanon to arrest the worsening condition of Filipinos in the country due to economic crisis.

-- Report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News; with Agence France-Presse