Massive double explosions in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020 killed more than 200 and injured 6,000. The source of the disaster was 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate, a compound that is used as a fertilizer and is also a very powerful explosive. It had been in port for more than six years without precautions. The tragedy quickly became a symbol of Lebanon’s longstanding political, social and economic crises. Despite promises of change, the blast’s wounds have yet to heal.
Within minutes of the blast, images of destruction went viral on social media. Then, in the hours and days that followed, residents took stock of the extent of the damage, their city disfigured and in parts almost unrecognizable. Finally, the shock gave way to anger, as locals denounced a catastrophe that could have been easily avoided.
The Lebanese people called for change, and they were not alone. Two days after the disaster, French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to Beirut, carrying a message of “solidarity and brotherhood” but also urging major reforms. But a year later, the reform of Lebanon’s political class has failed to materialize.
The country’s leaders are still in agreement on a new government and the official investigation into the explosion has not even been concluded. Lebanon is sinking deeper and deeper into a crisis amid inflation, unemployment and a food and fuel shortage. Half of the country’s population now lives below the poverty line.
Cyril Payen and Bilal Tarabey of Jowharvisit Beirut, a wounded city that still cannot heal. They spoke to Mehyeddin Lazkani, the son of one of the victims of the explosions, writer Charif Majdalani and former singer Cosette Sader Khairallah, who all shared their despair over the situation in the capital.
>> On France24.com: Beirut’s historic Sursock Museum is still recovering from blast wounds