Three-year-old victim in Beirut blast confirmed as one of two Canadians killed
TORONTO -- Three-year-old Alexandra Naggear, a rallying symbol in Lebanon against government corruption, was identified on Friday as one of two Canadians killed by the massive explosion that levelled part of Beirut.
Alexandra was among at least 178 people killed on August 4. Thousands more were injured.
As one of the youngest victims of the tragedy, her death enraged, saddened, and galvanized Lebanon. Many hoped she would survive, but she died two days after the explosion.
“They are all responsible, and they should all pay for what they did. We will avenge Alexandra,” said Sarah Jaafar, a relative of the girl.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that two Canadians were among the victims, and offered his “deepest condolences” to their family and friends. He did not disclose their identities, but CTV News confirmed Alexandra was one of the Canadians.
“I can tell you that she suffered, that little girl. She had some severe injuries and we tried to operate on her. We did our best, but unfortunately she succumbed to her wounds,” said Dr. Fred Bteich, a pediatric neurosurgeon in Beirut said.
Her father, Paul Naggear, who survived the explosion, had taken her to a protest against government corruption last year. Now, he wants an independent international investigation and hopes Alexandra’s memory can spark political change.
“Is it acceptable today that people would find their homes shattered, their families killed, their hopes and their dreams killed as well, with no justice, in all impunity?” he asked.
Angry demonstrations accusing the country’s political elite of exploiting state resources had already been raging for months. The outrage further flared following the devastating blast amid revelations that top Lebanese officials knew a dangerous amount of ammonium nitrate had been stored at the port in Beirut for years.
“We're trying to channel the anger, this rage into something useful, because right now the whole country is boiling, the whole country wants answers,” said Dr. Bteich.
Alexandra was among tens of thousands of Canadians residing in Lebanon, a number of whom are now considering leaving as tensions rise in their family’s country of origin.
Despite the calls for justice, survivors and relatives of the victims are skeptical an investigation will bring justice and instead hope for an overhaul of Lebanon’s political system.