Pope Francis: truth over Beirut blast 'can never be hidden'

Second anniversary of deadly explosion in the Lebanese capital is on Thursday

Pope Francis' visit to Lebanon scheduled for June was postponed. EPA
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Pope Francis said the truth about the 2020 Beirut port blast “can never be hidden” on the eve of the second anniversary of the deadly explosion.

More than 215 people were killed and thousands injured on August 4 that year, when a huge stock of ammonium nitrate, left in storage for years, caught fire and blew up.

A judicial investigation into the disaster has been at a standstill for eight months, while two sitting MPs charged in connection with the incident have refused to attend hearings.

“My thoughts go to the families of the victims of that disastrous event and to the dear Lebanese people,” Pope Francis said at his weekly address.

“I pray so that each one can be consoled by faith and comforted by justice and by truth, which can never be hidden.

“I hope that Lebanon, with the help of the international community, will continue on the path of rebirth."

Pope Francis was scheduled to visit Lebanon in June, but his trip was postponed.

The explosion is often regarded as a symptom of decades of mismanagement and corruption by Lebanon’s ruling classes.

The country is gripped by an economic crisis, which first became apparent in 2019. It has led to widespread shortages of basic supplies and pushed much of the population into poverty.

On Wednesday, a group of non-governmental organisations spoke about how the investigation into the events of August 4 “has stagnated, with no progress in sight”.

“The Lebanese authorities have repeatedly obstructed the course of the domestic investigation into the explosion by shielding politicians and officials implicated in the explosion from questioning, prosecution and arrest,” they said.

The groups, along with relatives of the victims, are calling for the international community to set up an independent investigation under the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Updated: August 04, 2022, 6:49 AM