MONTREAL -- After yesterday’s massive explosion in Beirut, the Lebanese Red Cross is trying to raise money around the world for the relief effort.

And the spokesman for the organization’s Canadian chapter says Montrealers should be reassured that “every cent” they are able to donate will go straight to relief efforts.

There have been widespread allegations of mismanagement of Lebanese government officials for years, but the country’s Red Cross is separate and it's in dire need, says Christian Rabbat, the group's spokesman in Canada.

“There’s a huge need for almost everything,” he told CTV News in an interview.

“Financial demand is unbelievable.”

It’s not all about money, though that’s the only part that Canadians can easily help with. The Lebanese Red Cross is also trying to organize a steady stream of blood donations after the Tuesday explosion, which killed at least 135 people and wounded 5,000.

Lebanon was already in bad shape before the explosion after waves of social upheaval, COVID-19 and a financial crash. 

The country also accepts a huge proportion of refugees from neighbouring countries—with a population of just under six million, it is home to 1.5 million Syrian refugees, for example, according to UN numbers.

Aside from blood donations, the Lebanese Red Cross is also helping arrange emergency health care and ambulance-like services, and trying to set up shelters for the hundreds of thousands of people whose homes were destroyed in the blast.

Most pressing, however, is helping with all sorts of transport and support as medical teams and searchers go through the rubble to find survivors.

“The problem with this tragedy is that it’s spread out over a huge area,” said Rabbat. “We’re talking about three kilometres” for the diameter of the destroyed area.

As far as the damage across Beirut, however, news reports said windows were blown out of buildings as far as nine kilometres away.

The Red Cross has deployed 72 ambulances and many medical personnel to the explosion site, but it’s not enough, Rabbat said. 

Lebanon is also now contending with the possibility of power outages, as well as shortages of many kinds of imported food and supplies because its port was destroyed.

Watch Rabbat’s interview above.