Lebanon celebrates this Thursday (4) the second anniversary of the great explosion that devastated Beiruta day marked by protests by the victims’ families, who demand justice.
The explosion in the port of Beirut, caused by incorrectly stored ammonium nitrate, left more than 200 dead, thousands injured and destroyed large areas of the country’s capital.
Review the explosion:
But the investigation into the causes of the explosion remains stalled by political interference and no state official has been held responsible for the tragedy of August 4, 2020.
Several badly damaged grain silos, which served as sad symbols of the disaster, collapsed last week. And others are in danger of collapsing, experts have warned.
“I hope that, watching the silos collapse, people will have the desire to fight for justice, fight alongside us,” said Tatiana Hasrouty, who lost her father in the explosion.
“Politicians are doing everything possible to prevent the investigation,” he said.
The mega-explosion represented a nightmarish moment for Lebanon, a country facing the most serious economic crisis in its history, marked by blackouts, out-of-control inflation and widespread discouragement.
The protesters have scheduled three marches that are expected to meet at the port, where the odor of smoke persists. In the silo area, the fermenting grains burn in the intense heat of summer.
The explosion caused devastation usually seen in scenarios of war or natural disasters.
It also worsened the situation of a population already affected by the crisis and accelerated the exodus of the Lebanese, something that recalls the departures recorded during the 1975-1990 civil war.
The country’s politicians, accused of corruption and negligence, cling to power at a time when the population faces shortages of clean water, medicines and fuel.
“These rulers kill us every day,” Hasrouty said. “Those who didn’t die in the explosion are starving.”
Blackouts last up to 23 hours a day, streets remain dark at night, and traffic lights don’t work.
Lara Khatchikian, 51, whose apartment was impacted by the blast, observes the flames in the grain silos and calls the situation a “nightmare”.
“My neighbors and I were stressed all the time. I was scared, we couldn’t sleep. You need superhuman strength to live when you’re constantly reminded of the explosion,” he explained.
The government ordered the demolition of the silos in April, but the measure was suspended in part over the objections of the victims’ relatives, who want the sites to be kept as a memorial.
French civil engineer Emmanuel Durand, who monitors the deposits, warned that the risk of another partial collapse “has never been higher” and could happen “at any time”.
The investigation, however, is in danger of ending because authorities have limited Judge Tarek Bitar’s work with a series of legal actions.
A judicial source following the case said that Judge Bitar’s work has been paralyzed since December 23.
Victims’ families are divided: some accuse Bitar of bias and others see him as their only hope.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other organizations asked the UN to send a verification mission to the country.
In a statement, the organizations say that “it is clear that the internal investigation will not be able to do justice”.