While the port of Beirut was wiped out by a double explosion that killed more than 170 people and destroyed much of the Lebanese capital, two weeks ago we offered a special Express Orient program since this bruised country. Beirut is in mourning and everyone here knows someone who was hit by the blast. With our correspondents and our special envoys, we will try to understand what happened and what future we should imagine for this country on the verge of chaos.
On August 4, when 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate burned in the port of Beirut, the population became dumbfounded by the thick smoke of the fire. Many Lebanese filmed the black mushroom rising in the sky with their mobile phones and broadcast the videos live on social media … until the terrible explosion sounded. Our correspondent in Lebanon, Charbel Abboud, met these witnesses who very often were also victims of the explosion.
>> To see “In photos: Beirut’s new face, ruined capital”
Prior to the disaster, the rescuers’ first mission was to rescue the injured and search for the survivors trapped under the rubble. For families, the wait is unbearable. In recent days, some have come to meditate at the port and still hope to find their relatives from whom they no longer hear. Our special envoys Nadia Massih, Abdallah Malkawi and Karim Yahiahoui went to meet them.
While the support is organized for all those who are now homeless, the absent Lebanese state is the target of all criticism. Under pressure from the streets, the government has resigned and the Lebanese are thirsty for answers. How could the authorities approve the storage of 2,750 tonnes of such dangerous ammonium nitrate? … Place des Martyrs, in the heart of the capital, shows tens of thousands of people regularly and demands the departure of all the ruling class. Among them the activist Lucien Bourjeily, film director, whom we met. He had participated in large collections last year. For him, this drama is without a doubt the tragedy for many.
>> To read: “The crazy story of the 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate in layer 12”
We will then take you to the Karantina district, in Beirut, one of the most affected. There is a strong Syrian community there. While all residents urgently need help, the tension is palpable. Report from our special envoys.
Finally, the Lebanese foreign group is mobilizing around the world to send money and basic necessities to the country. Report in Paris by Jade Levin.
>> To see, our special program: “Crisis in Lebanon, the infernal gear”