Editor's note: This is an evolving story. Please see our updated news release here. Below is the original story published shortly after the blast.
BALTIMORE, Aug. 6, 2020 — Three 40-foot shipping containers filled with humanitarian aid that included thousands of handmade quilts and baby-care items were destroyed in the devastating August 4 explosions at the port of Beirut, Lebanon, the NGO Lutheran World Relief learned today.
The shipment, which also included school supplies for students and personal care kits, were destined for refugees living in Lebanon, principally from Syria and the Palestinian territories. The containers were part of a shipment to be distributed by Anera, an NGO and longtime Lutheran World Relief partner that provides humanitarian assistance and sustainable development to advance the well-being of refugees and other vulnerable communities in the Middle East.
The total value of the lost shipments was approximately $624,000.
The loss of more than 22,000 quilts, sewn by individuals and members of Lutheran congregations across the U.S., could mean a more bitter winter for thousands of refugees, said Melanie Gibbons, deputy director, outreach and engagement at Lutheran World Relief.
"Our quilts are made with love by those who painstakingly craft them, and they’re deeply appreciated by the people in distress who receive them, both for the warmth and the message of care they provide," Gibbons said.
In addition, the shipping containers held 100 cartons of kits filled with school supplies, 300 cartons of personal care kits and 125 cartons of baby care kits.
"Our hearts are breaking as we grieve and pray with our brothers and sisters in Beirut," said Daniel Speckhard, president & CEO of Lutheran World Relief. "We are committed to replacing the aid that was lost and are working on an emergency response to provide assistance as the city recovers and rebuilds."
The explosions killed more than 150 people, injured more than 5,000 and left at least 300,000 without shelter. The blast was strong enough to register as the equivalent of a 3.3-magnitude earthquake and was felt as far as Cyprus, 150 miles away.