Beirut blast
*Image Credit: Hassan Ammar / AP

In an already fragile state, the country that has been plagued by political, social and financial issues for decades, the catastrophic explosion in Beirut on Tuesday is just stronger proof that Lebanon needs help, and fast.

The strain on Beirut’s hospitals, already barely coping with myriads of coronavirus patients, has been intensified with hospitals in Beirut now overwhelmed with casualties. Four of its hospitals are also out of service due to damage by the explosion.

Lebanon’s cabinet declared a two-week state of emergency in the capital city, following the massive explosion in Beirut on Tuesday, that has claimed the lives of at least 135 people and injured another estimated 5000 people.

One Greek woman, Anna Armaou, a Greek national living in Beirut, lost her eye in the deadly explosion and shared her account of the incident, as reported by Protothema,

“I was home, I live on the fourth floor. There was nothing left, everything was destroyed. They took me to three hospitals and there was no place to put me,” the injured Greek woman told SKAI.

“Blood was running from my face and eyes, people were running like crazy on the street,” she continued.

Anna was lucky compared to some. It was confirmed late Tuesday by the Greek Embassy in Lebanon that a Greek citizen died in the explosion that rocked the capital. Five other Greeks were also injured.

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his support, tweeting: “On behalf of the Greek people, I want to express my deepest condolences to the people of Lebanon, especially to the families who have suffered losses and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded. Our thoughts are with you,” also adding that “Greece stands ready to provide any assistance needed.”

An investigation is under way to find the exact trigger for the explosion. Lebanon’s government announced on Wednesday that those responsible for guarding and storage at Beirut’s port – the epicentre of the blast – “would be placed under house arrest as soon as possible.”

Here’s what we know about the blast:

  • Prime Minister Hassan Diab stated that cause of the explosion “was 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a common industrial chemical used in fertiliser and as a component in mining explosives.”
  • The initial investigation reportedly found “years of inaction” and “negligence” around the removal of the ammonium nitrate.
  • The European Union has activated its ‘civil protection system‘ which gives the power to round up emergency workers and equipment from member states.
  • Governments worldwide have sent their support, including Greece, Kuwait, and Australia.
  • Beirut’s governor, Marwan Abboud, broke down in tears when he stated that ‘the damage from the port blast has extended over half of the city,’ with the cost of damage likely above $3billion.
  • Rescuers continue to search for victims who remain trapped under rubble with many people still missing.
  • Hospitals, several of which were damaged in the blast, are overflowing with patients. In the Gemmayze district, medical teams were forced to triage patients in a local car park, while the Red Cross said it is coordinating with the Lebanese health ministry to set up morgues in the fear that bodies will be left on the street, risking infection and cross-contamination.

Here’s how you can help and provide some much-needed support:

  • The Lebanese Red Cross. They are the main provider of ambulance services in Lebanon and they have stated that they would ‘dispatch every ambulance from north Lebanon, south Lebanon to Beirut to treat the wounded and assist in search and rescue operations. You can donate here.
  • Impact Lebanon has set up a crowdfunding campaign to assist organisations on the ground. They are also helping to locate missing people. At the time of writing, the group has raised over £4,000,000.
  • To assist with emergency housing, as over 300,000 people are now displaced from the blast, donate to Bayta Baytak. This charity is now raising funds together with Impact Lebanon to shelter all who’ve been displaced. They have also set up a GoFundMe me page. Donate here.