Beirut buries more of the dead than the planet displays unity following a huge fire.
Lebanon buried many of its dead Wednesday as a result of a huge blast at the port of Beirut that disfigured the capital, toppled the government and deepened the worsening economic crisis. Top international diplomats kept pouring through traumatized Lebanon to express concern over its biggest peace-time tragedy and advocate for changes to counter the injustice that it has triggered.
Survivors and volunteers were still cleaning rubble-stretched streets a week after a massive commercial chemical factory blew up in an accident so strong that it was called “Beirutshima” on social media. The confirmed death count from the massive explosion that evoked the recollection of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb attack increased to 171, with 6,500 wounded and 300,000 briefly left homeless.
Beirut’s central fire department, situated a stone’s throw from the destroyed city, conducted an emotional funeral for one of the 10 comrades who had lost their way to the conflagration. “May God be with you, our comrade,” screamed the firefighters when they saw their beloved friend Jo Noun’s coffin at their fourth such ceremony since the tragedy of August 4.
Ten firefighters have been confirmed to have died, and another six are still missing, including three members of the same family. Their families were waiting for their return, in their mountain village of Qartaba. “We want our sons back in one piece or more,” Rita Hitti told AFP. The three young people who are absent are her friend, nephew and mother-in – law.
Lebanon and international first relief workers were already checking the gritty “ground zero” where the fire pulverized the structures and created a 43-metre deep water hole where the quay and the warehouses once stood.
The human mistake that contributed to the type of widespread destruction normally associated with a big earthquake has triggered national anger, exceeded only by the pace with which officials are captured.