Lebanese-Canadian business leaders pledge to raise $2.5M for Beirut relief
Canadian government announces on Saturday it will match funds up to a maximum of $2M
Lebanese-Canadian business leaders in Toronto say they plan to raise $2.5 million to support relief efforts in Beirut after a deadly explosion devastated Lebanon's capital on Tuesday.
On Saturday, the Canadian government announced it would match every donation made by Canadians to its new Lebanon Matching Fund up to a maximum of $2 million.
The business leaders in Toronto had called on the government to match their funds as bodies continue to be pulled from the rubble. The powerful blast that has killed more than 150 people and wounded thousands.
The business owners include Mohamad Fakih, founder and CEO of the Paramount Fine Foods restaurant chain, and Rola Dagher, president of Cisco Systems Canada.
At a news conference Friday, Fakih and Dagher also announced that they will form an organization called the Lebanese Canadian Coalition.
Canada announced this week that up to $5 million in humanitarian aid will be sent to Lebanon.
Blast came from stockpile of ammonium nitrate
The strength of the explosion left buildings decimated or uninhabitable in the nearly 10-kilometre radius of the blast.
Days after the tragedy, the streets of Beirut remain filled with rubble and debris, with dozens of people still missing. Around 300,000 people, 12 per cent of the city's population, are unable to return to their homes.
While the cause of the blast is believed to be due to thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate that caught fire while stored at Beirut's port, Lebanese officials are asking France to provide satellite imagery to rule out any kind of third-party intervention.
WATCH | A Canadian describes surviving the Beirut explosion:
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Friday that the previous government knew about the danger of the ammonium nitrate stockpile, which had been at the port since 2013 when it was confiscated from an impounded ship.
Aoun has been in his position since 2016.
The Lebanese government has launched an investigation, but many citizens are blaming the disaster on internal corruption.
With files from Reuters