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People place white roses on portraits of victims of last year's Beirut port blast as Lebanon marks one year anniversary of Beirut port explosion, on August 3, 2021. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: On August 4, a huge blast at the Beirut port rocked the capital, leaving around 200 people dead and devastating large chunks of the city. The explosion resulted in a giant pink mushroom cloud that killed over 220 people, injured 6,000, and displaced another 300,000 people while destroying half of the city. A year later, and Lebanese residents in the UAE still mourn the day that shattered not only the city but the hearts and souls of the Lebanese people. For Solange El Rassi, a Lebanese resident of the UAE, time stopped at 6.07pm on August 4, 2020.

“Today and every day, our hearts and minds are with the families of martyrs who are still living under the weight of this tragedy that shook the world,” she said.

Solange El Rassi Image Credit: Supplied

“Today marks the first anniversary of the Beirut port blast, which was one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in modern history, and whoever is responsible and for what interest or goal, it does not matter anymore, the most important thing is that they destroyed the heart of our country our capital, killed more than 200 souls, suspended the lives of thousands, and stole what remained of the dreams and hopes of the Lebanese.”

She added: “As a Lebanese, the events of this day are still stuck in my head. I remember every second of that day, how I received the news and the first scenes every single detail as if it’s today.

“I was traumatised and I suffered from insomnia for about a month and I had a lot of nightmares. What made the issue more difficult for us as expatriates residing outside the homeland is our first visit to our beloved city after this horrific day, I remember how I refused to visit the site of the explosion or even pass by its side so I don’t see the bitter and painful reality.

“I don’t want to see a different picture of Beirut, this beautiful, wonderful, radiant city that it’s still stuck in my head since the childhood. To this day, I have not seen the site of the explosion with my own eyes. I might be living in denial watching Lebanon suffer the throes of an economic crisis, marked by the extreme devaluation of the Lebanese pound, which has led to more unrest and shortages of essential goods.

“I hope that these dark days will clear away from my country and that we all return to celebrate with our people the blessings of life.”

Over 100 people were killed in the Beirut blasts as huge explosions rocked the Lebanese capital. The blast, attributed to large quantities of ammonium nitrate poorly stored at the port, struck while Lebanon was roiled by months-long street protests against the ruling elite.

The protesters have accused the ruling class of corruption and mismanagement of economy, pushing the country to the verge of a financial collapse.

Lara Geadah
Lara Geadah Image Credit: Supplied

Lara Geadah, another resident, said to Gulf News, “I don’t feel great at all... I feel to this day, that we are totally displaced as Lebanese. I feel like we have to work three, four, five times as hard just to prove ourselves.

“I think the Lebanese people are very talented individuals who are so well educated. We have fantastic schools, universities and we have contributed much to the world. We are also funny, witty, smart and hardworking, but I feel like we can’t enjoy our country the way we used to. It was such a sad day for me and my family when I heard about the blast, but I felt so blessed when so many friends reached out and asked about my family. Thankfully everything is ok. We are doing fine. I really hope Lebanon moves in the right direction soon and that we can enjoy our beautiful country.”

Osama Itani Image Credit: Supplied

Osama Itani added: “Honestly, it is heartbreaking and disappointing to see that after an entire year has passed from the blast that Lebanon was still not able to rise from its ashes. I feel like we are still being suffocated from the corrupt government. It was such a shock to hear about the blast a year ago and I still remember when I first saw the video just how surprised I was. I hope one day Lebanon can live up to what we want it to be.”

The explosion came to fuel public discontent and forced the government of Hassan Diab to resign under home and international pressure.

Louay Moursel
Image Credit: Supplied

Louay Moursel also gave his thoughts to Gulf News. "Us Lebanese have lived and experienced many wars since we came to life during the last 40 years, we know that wars happen due to conflicts and interests between countries yet every time we have been rising again. However, we have never imagined that someday one of the largest accidental explosions in history will happen in the middle of our beloved city, Beirut.

Who would believe that 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate were stored in our capital’s port between vital streets, a blast that has killed 218 people & injured thousands more?

Today marks the first anniversary of the explosion, nothing is the same as before August 4, 2020 everything has changed. It’s been 365 days and we are still living in trauma every time we remember how many people passed away and how Beirut has turned upside down.

Being away from my home country, all I wish for pm this day is to see all the criminals behind the bars so that justice can take its course against them as they are all still living in denial mode as nothing happened. Beirut will always remain the “Bride of the East” and will inevitably rise again as the phoenix rises. Beirut we love you.

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