By Susan Korah
Susan Korah reports on the desperate state of the former Mediterranean oasis one year after the blast that decimated Beirut.
One year ago today was a night of splintering glass and splattering blood.
On August 4, 2020, as the last hours of pre-sunset daylight illuminated Beirut’s skyline, a cataclysmic explosion shook the city like the blast of an atomic bomb. It turned out to be the spontaneous combustion of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse near the port. It plunged the city— and through its ripple effect— the entire country, into a long dark night of terror and chaos.
A night from which the country has not yet recovered. In fact, it has sunk into a deep depression.
Sounds of shattering glass and clouds of billowing smoke filled the air that night, as people—6000 of them seriously injured— staggered through blood-splattered streets. About 200 were killed, and 300,000 rendered homeless.
Gebran Kally, a volunteer with the Swedish humanitarian aid organization A Demand for Action (ADFA) is still traumatized by the events of a year ago.
Kally was on his way to the hospital to visit his critically ill daughter when the explosion set the ground shuddering under his feet.
“The windows of my daughter’s hospital room shattered, and the whole hospital was plunged in darkness,” he told Convivium through a translator. “Fortunately, my wife was with her at the time. She grabbed her and pulled her out of the way before the flying glass could kill her.”
A few months later, Kally’s daughter succumbed to cancer.
These days, Kally and other volunteers keep themselves busy, soothing their own grief by helping others—distributing food and medicines— in a deeply wounded country in danger of sinking even deeper into a vortex of anarchy and civ...