TESTIMONIALS

Beirut Explosion: wide scale destruction and heartbreaking testimonies

"We're going around in circles in the house, because we don't know where to start," a Beirut woman says.


Beirut Explosion: wide scale destruction and heartbreaking testimonies

A street in the Mar Mikhael district on Wednesday in Beirut, a day after the double explosion in Bei-rut's port. AFP / PATRICK BAZ

"It is as if a cyclone has passed through the house." Returning home on Tuesday night, several hours after the two explosions that hit Beirut on Tuesday evening, Rana can't find words to de-scribe the state of her house, located in Achrafieh.

"I honestly didn't expect so much damage," she said, referring to all the doors and windows at her home that imploded. "We don't even have a door or a window frame anymore," the furni-ture is upside down and "even the walls" have been cracked, even holed in places. In the after-math of the double explosion at Beirut's port that devastated many parts of the capital and left more than 130 dead and 5,000 injured, according to the latest count of the Lebanese Red Cross, Rana and her sister "do not know where to start.. We're going around in circles in the house...The priority, probably, is to close the windows, especially those that overlook the gar-den."

She then compared the blast with the bomb attack that targeted the ABC shopping mall, near where she lives, in 2007. "The bomb was placed right in front of us. But despite everything, we had less damage; it's not comparable," she said.

In front of An-Nahar building in downtown Beirut, a security guard looked at the building with tears in his eyes."I arrived this morning, and I found out the extent of the damage," he said. "I don't know what to say; the building is devastated. Sixteen people were wounded here.”

"The windows are all broken, only one in the whole apartment wasn't broken, at the back of the house. The shutters are either off their hinges or have been broken. The front door is partially off its hinges. My bed collapsed under the weight of the glass that fell on it," said Maya, a young Lebanese girl who lives with her parents in Sodeco, in the Achrafieh district. In a Lebanon facing a severe economic and financial crisis, marked by bank restrictions and a violent depre-ciation of the pound, her family fears the cost of repair work. " For the moment, we have de-cided not to repair the windows. We're going to put some cardboard. But it is urgent to fix the front door. My sister called someone this morning to fix it, but he didn't even know what is left in his shop; if he still has wood, tools and so he couldn't give us a quotation..."

If all of Beirut is devastated, the Mar Mikhael district is one of the most affected. In front of the headquarters of Electricité du Liban, in this neighborhood, a man was sweeping the debris on the sidewalk. His arm was bandaged. "I am still in shock. I can't talk. I was on the balcony when the explosion took place. I almost died. One of my neighbors is undergoing surgery right now," he said, tears in his eyes. The air was filled with the heavy smell, difficult to identify.

A few meters away, Joseph Toubaji was in tears. "We are homeless now. Nothing is left of the house my grandfather built in the 19th century," he said. "But it's not the worst part; my sister and cousin were injured. Last night, my cousin was treated on the floor of the hospital. It is aw-ful."

In this Beirut's neighborhood, there are many bars. Due to the re-containment, which had been decided by the authorities, these establishments were closed on Tuesday. That undoubtedly saved lives. "Luckily, we were closed because of the re-containment. Our fans were pulverized. They could have killed someone. One of our friends, who works here, was injured. She was hit in the head. She was evacuated by the Red Cross on Tuesday night," said an employee, who was clearing the debris. "But since then, we have no more news." Meanwhile, people from other areas of Beirut started to flock to the neighborhood to offer help.

In an area parallel to Pasteur Street, not far from the heavily-damaged neighborhood, Jamal, in her 50s, struggled to contain her anger. Her house and her car were damaged. She has three boys and today dreams of leaving Lebanon. "I call on the international community to save us from the people who run this country. I call on all diplomats to save us from the people who lead us."

On Huvelin Street, the owner of a bar burst into tears. "Beirut is no more, Beirut is no more," she repeated like an automaton."Even during the war, I didn't see so much destruction."


(This article was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour on the 5th of August)


"It is as if a cyclone has passed through the house." Returning home on Tuesday night, several hours after the two explosions that hit Beirut on Tuesday evening, Rana can't find words to de-scribe the state of her house, located in Achrafieh.

"I honestly didn't expect so much damage," she said, referring to all the doors and windows at her home that imploded. "We don't even have a door or a...

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