Perhaps the August 4th explosion is the most catastrophic in Lebanon’s modern history, but let us not forget that it follows other recent explosions – financial, social, economic, and even imminent starvation.
The latest explosion is disastrous by all accounts, leaving 350,000 homeless, more than 137 dead, 5000 injured, and a large number of people still unaccounted for. Office buildings and apartments across the capital are destroyed, as well as the country’s largest port, with reconstruction estimates ranging between 12 and 15 billion dollars at a time the government cannot even secure a two-billion-dollar emergency loan.
Many Lebanese, those who have remained in the country, as well as those who have left, might recall the many explosions that preceded the one that happened this week: civil wars, Israeli wars, Syrian and Israeli occupations, assassinations of presidents, prime ministers, politicians, intellectuals, journalists, the brutality of the different militias, the list is long.
While most, if not all, of these tragic events were somewhat expected, the August 4th twin explosion was not. I cannot imagine that many Lebanese contemplated the presence of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate in a hot warehouse in the middle of a port city. The gravity and shock of the blast led many commentators to speak their frustrations. "In Hiroshima, it is the enemy who dropped the atomic bomb on another people, while in Lebanon, the rulers have dropped a nuclear bomb on their own people," tweeted Dima Sadeq, a TV journalist, and activist. Ghassan Charbel, a journalist, wrote "Beirut is a sad city whose history is written only by funerals." Thus it is no coincidence that many have coined the term to describe the explosion as “Beirutshima.”
A very insightful and informative article by Robin Wright, an author who knows Lebanon quite well. Please click on the link below to read her article in The New Yorker.
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