Day 127 and I am just home, walking through the dark again, smelling the citrus scent of daphne on the night air, and I have hit a wall and am weary and wish to fall into bed but I cannot yet because tonight my thoughts are with the people of Beirut and Lebanon and the agonies they are enduring at this time and I must write and acknowledge the catastrophe.
Only very recently I had read of the collapse of their economy and the dire situation for all, with hyperinflation diminishing the value of their currency, reducing people’s incomes drastically and leading to job losses and nationwide poverty. And now this, two massive explosions in the Port of Beirut. Vast mushroom clouds and flames— some thought it was a nuclear explosion — hung in the air for nearly thirty minutes. Speculation is running high about the true causes of the disaster. The official explanation is an accidental detonation of ammonium nitrate left unsecured for some years in a warehouse near the port. Somebody, or some people ignited those chemicals. 100 dead, 4000 injured, a hospital destroyed, houses, whole streets gone, shattered glass on the ground, people missing… it is too terrible. Medical facilities are already stretched as doctors deal with the impact of coronavirus, how will they manage the flood of injured? ‘We’re cursed,’ said one young man, blood streaming from his arm. Power out. Lights off. The city in darkness. People leaving their crushed homes but where will they go? People searching through the smoking ruins and debris for family. A mother down at the port calling out the name of her son and saying ‘His eyes are green.’
A humanitarian catastrophe of horrifying proportions. This is too much for people to bear. The explosions have destroyed silos containing around 85% of the country’s grain when bread was already scarce. A warehouse containing medical supplies was lost as well. People are being turned away from hospitals, the injured are being treated in the streets. There are not enough words in the English language to express the awfulness of this absolute tragedy. Suffering heaped upon suffering — physical, emotional, psychological, financial. We can donate. We can meditate, or pray. We can continue to follow the plight of the people of Lebanon and care. My heart is heavy tonight.