Explosion in the port of Beirut: the Lebanese still in search of answers

Explosion in the port of Beirut: the Lebanese still in search of answers

Marches were organized in Lebanon to mark the second anniversary of the explosion in the port of Beirut. The families of the victims demand justice.

Exasperated by the blocking of the investigation into the explosion that occurred in the port of Beirut two years ago, relatives of the victims mark the anniversary date of the accident, Thursday, by demonstrating. They remain determined to continue their fight for justice.

On August 4, 2020, hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate stored carelessly in a warehouse exploded. Result: more than 200 dead, 6,500 injured and completely devastated neighborhoods. Not to mention the psychological trauma.

It is one of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever to occur anywhere in the world. But two years later, we still do not know its exact causes and the identity of those responsible in a country where impunity very often reigns.

Even if a large part of the population blamed it on a ruling class that had been in place for decades, accused of mismanagement, corruption and blatant neglect.

There must be an impartial, thorough and transparent investigation into the explosion, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday, echoing calls from non-governmental organizations ( NGOs), experts and families of victims.

Relatives organized three separate marches towards the port to demand the relaunch of the local investigation, blocked by political obstruction.

Dozens of grain silos had been hit hard by the blast, but they had remained standing. This week, however, some have collapsed and others are at risk of collapse following a fire in early July.

I' hope seeing the silos fall will give people the will to fight with us for justice, said Tatiana Hasrouty, who lost her father in the tragedy. The politicians are doing everything in their power to stop the investigation.

This mega-explosion, felt as far away as the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, some 200 km away, is a nightmare in Lebanon's already turbulent history.

'My government is responsible for this,' reads a wall along Beirut's port that has been scratched of the map by the explosions of August 4.

The country is today mired in the worst economic crisis in its history: vertiginous fall of the local currency, shortages of fuel, medicine and drinking water, stifling banking restrictions and impoverishment of the population.

It affected an already hard-hit population and caused a mass exodus reminiscent of the civil war (1975-1990).

“This ruling class kills us every day. Those who did not die in the explosion are starving.

— Tatiana Hasrouty, who lost her father in the explosion of August 4, 2020

Bakeries ration bread, power cuts can go as far as x27;at 23 hours a day, gas prices have skyrocketed, streets are dark at night and traffic lights are out of order.

The explosion was a nightmare, recalls Lara Khatchikian in her apartment facing the port, which was badly damaged but which she repaired.

The fire in the silos brought back his memories.

My neighbors and I were constantly stressed. I felt fear, we couldn't sleep. It takes superhuman strength to live when you constantly remember the explosion, she says.

In April, the government ordered the demolition of the silos, but this was suspended due to objections from relatives of victims who want to make it a place of memory.

Some silos collapsed this week in the port of Beirut, after being weakened by a fire in July.

French civil engineer Emmanuel Durand, who monitors the silos, has warned that the risk of another partial or total collapse has never been higher.

< p class="e-p">A heavyweight in Lebanese political life, Hezbollah on Thursday denounced the political and media campaigns against the movement accused of blocking the work of the judge.

Be that as it may, for NGOs and independent UN experts, it is clear today more than ever that the national inquiry cannot do justice and that& #x27;An international investigation without delay is needed.

Aya Majzoub of Human Rights Watch says an international investigation may be the only hope for the millions of Lebanese affected by tragedy.

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