Wife of Dutch envoy to Lebanon dies from Beirut-blast injuries

Serious trauma the result of ‘sheer bad luck’, notes ministry statement confirming death

Hedwig Waltmans-Molier (55) was thrown off her feet by the blast.

The wife of the Dutch ambassador to Lebanon died in Beirut on Saturday as a result of injuries sustained in the massive explosion that ripped through the city last Tuesday.

Hedwig Waltmans-Molier (55) and ambassador Jan Waltmans had returned to the Lebanese capital just days before after a brief holiday, according to the foreign affairs ministry in The Hague.

The couple were standing together in the living room of the embassy residence when thrown off their feet by the blast. Her serious injuries were the result of “sheer bad luck”, noted a ministry statement confirming her death.

Ms Waltmans-Molier had worked with the personnel department of the foreign ministry since 1994 and divided her time between Beirut and The Hague. She had previously worked in Dutch embassies in Sudan, Bangladesh and Zambia and was well known in diplomatic and foreign affairs circles.

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“We are deeply saddened by the death of our much-loved colleague at such a young age,” added the statement. “Hedwig will be very sorely missed. She is a great loss to this department and a great loss to our country.”

The statement continued that Ms Waltmans-Molier and her husband had been “together for 38 years”.

The sentiments of colleagues were echoed by foreign minister Stef Blok who said his thoughts and those of foreign trade minister Sigrid Kaag were with ambassador Waltmans, the couple’s children and wider family.

“We send them our deepest sympathies and wish them the strength to come to terms with this great loss,” he said.

The foreign ministry has opened a book of condolences.

First Dutch fatality

Ms Waltmans-Molier is the first Dutch national to die as a result of the explosion caused by the degradation of a huge stock of ammonium nitrate stored in the city’s port since 2014 when it was unloaded from an impounded cargo ship, the MV Rhosus.

Five Dutch men who also work at the embassy were slightly hurt in the blast in which more than 5,000 people are believed to have been injured and more than 150 killed.

A volunteer team of 64 urban search-and-rescue specialists from the Netherlands arrived in Beirut, along with eight sniffer dogs, at the weekend. They will be working in tandem with French experts.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has described the explosion as “a terrible disaster” and promised any help required.

Peter Cluskey

Peter Cluskey

Peter Cluskey is a journalist and broadcaster based in The Hague, where he covers Dutch news and politics plus the work of organisations such as the International Criminal Court