The Port Explosion

Krikor Ankeshian

It has almost been a year and a half; the date was August 4th, 2020— an average day for most people without any special events or ceremonies. This was all true until 6:00 PM when a huge shockwave was felt all across Lebanon as well as in many surrounding countries such as Syria, Palestine, Israel, and others. The calamity struck; the infamous Beirut port explosion just occurred, spreading with its blast a great deal of pain and misery to many unfortunate individuals and families.

The timing of the explosion could not have been any worse since Lebanon was already exacerbated by the COVID-19 virus as well as the deepest economic crisis in all of its long history. The explosion resulted in over 200 deaths, 7,000 injuries and 300,000 people losing their homes. With many hospitals overcrowded with patients, the situation looked grim. Thankfully, everybody worked together to remedy the situation as soon as possible. The Lebanese Red Cross activated all available ambulances and medics and dispatched them to Beirut to help the patients, the government supported recovery operations, ride-sharing applications such as Careem offered free rides to and from hospitals to anybody willing to help or donate blood, and local business owners offered to fund the repair of damaged buildings. In addition to all of this, there was an abundance of international help from international organizations and a multitude of countries across the world. In the following weeks, hundreds of people volunteered to clean up the debris on the streets and inside homes and businesses in the areas that were affected by the explosion. Many civil society organizations offered equipment and food for people in need, and many residents and businesses opened their homes and hotels for free to help those who lost their homes in the blast.

The explosion in Beirut left a horrific mark in the life of every individual living in Lebanon, whether it be physical, mental, emotional, or financial. Those who were not directly hit by the blast suffered severe mental and emotional trauma from the lurid images of the people suffering on live broadcast. Even if someone was not directly affected, the chances were that someone they knew was. Two of the more personal examples of this are my friend who lost half of his house because of the blast, and my classmate whose mother died due to the explosion. The news of her mother’s passing was gut-wrenching not only for her, but for the entire class. In a way, it was a rude awakening that the grim reaper can knock at our doors sooner than we expect, and a bitter realization of the fragility of the human life.

To this day, we do not know the truth behind the explosion— whether it was a case of negligence or an intentional attempt to shake Lebanon to its core. With all the conspiracy theories and the false rumors, it is safe to say that we will never truly know the reality of the situation, for the evidence is gone up in flames. All that we can do is hope and pray that nothing similar occurs again in our lifetimes.