Beirut Blast: One Month Later

Image Credit: Hassan Ammar/AP/ABC News

It’s been a month since a massive shock wave destroyed most of the Lebanese capital, triggered by an explosion of over 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate.

Rescue teams, non-governmental groups (NGOs), healthcare workers, and volunteers working tirelessly to help victims and those displaced by the blast.

Last Thursday (September 3), there was a glimmer of hope when a specially trained dog from a Chilean rescue team alerted people that a survivor might be trapped under rubble in the Mar Mikhael area. Specialist equipment detected a heartbeat; however, hopes were dashed when it was confirmed that no bodies were trapped despite a thorough search.

In the meantime, volunteers spread across the city to help clean up the rubble and put things back together as best they could under the circumstances.

Image Credit: AFP

One factory received approximately 20 – 22 tonnes of glass that were collected by volunteers. These were melted and turned into traditional slim necked water jugs.

Wissam Hammoud, deputy head at the United Glass Production Company (Uniglass), told Arabian Business: “Organisations are bringing it to us so that we can remanufacture it…we work 24 hours a day…we can’t stop because stopping costs too much money.”

The items are available for sale here.

But even as the rebuild begins, in a worrying twist, the Lebanese army have stated that four containers with 4.3 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were found on Thursday (September 3) outside Beirut’s seaport. They have not released any additional details at this point.

Injured survivors continue to receive medical aid, among them is Shady Rizk, whose office was located directly across from the port. He now has 350 stitches across his body, including all over his face. Risk recounted his harrowing experience to Reuters (below). Warning: Graphic Content

Over 600,000 children were also traumatised by the blast, according to UNICEF representative to Lebanon Yukie Mokuo. UNICEF had begun to provide psycho-social support to an initial group of 2,000 children, with more expected to recieve treatment.

The city marked the one-month anniversary of the explosion on Friday, September 4. The Daily Star, a Lebanese daily publication, depicted a poignant scene:

While the city fell silent and cars came to a stop, church bells tolled, prayers were broadcast from mosque loudspeakers, fire trucks sounded their sirens and speakers at the port replayed the sound of the explosion with people’s panicked voices from the tragic night.

Tensions continue to mount between protesters and the government, leading to various clashes, despite the government’s resignation shortly after the blast. Home owners and business owners are also fighting another battle – this time with insurance companies who are refusing to pay compensation and banks who have frozen accounts due to the economic crisis.

French President Emmanuel Macron visited the capital once again last week to lend support, push Lebanese politicians to hold themselves accountable for the tragedy, and mandated that they form a new government within the next weeks under the new Prime Minister, Mustafa Adib. His visit also featured a dinner with legendary singer Fairuz as well as planting a cedar tree, the nation’s emblem, at a forest reserve north of Beirut, to mark Lebanon’s centenary.

Beirut’s road to recovery is going at a snail’s pace – with daily cost estimates rising by the day – but its inhabitants are looking for ways to move forward and find glimmers of positivity wherever they can in the meantime.

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