Beirut, August 4, 2023 - At 6:08pm on August 4, 2020, the Beirut Port exploded into a giant magenta-colored mushroom cloud, killing at least 220 people, and injuring 7,000, of whom at least 150 acquired a physical disability. The explosion has been declared as the largest non-nuclear explosion in the world’s history, causing serious psychological trauma to millions of the city’s residents.
Near the blast’s epicenter, historic buildings —many of which are more than 100 years old— collapsed and were heavily damaged. The impact of the explosion was felt more than 5 kilometers away from the Port, shattering windows and doors in apartments across the city.
The explosion damaged 77,000 apartments and homes in the areas surrounding the Port, displacing approximately 300,000 people. According to estimates, damages to infrastructure, the residential sector, as well as to the city’s cultural heritage amounted to between 3.8 to 4.6 billion US dollars.
“Despite the constant reminder of the tragedy that crushed this city on August 4, three years ago, and the sheer scale of material and psychological damage it caused, the residents of this resilient city have come together in solidarity and have rebuilt and are still rebuilding what was destroyed with their own personal enterprise,” said Michael Adams, CARE Lebanon’s Country Director. “Many people in Lebanon, including refugees and migrant workers, are struggling to make ends meet today due to a host of factors stemming from the financial ruin and complete economic decline. Vulnerable communities across Lebanon continue to need our help today.”
The Beirut Port explosion happened in the middle of a global pandemic as well as a wave of financial and economic upheaval that had rapidly began engulfing Lebanon in late 2019. At the time of the explosion the country was facing the biggest banking crisis in its history, with the national currency losing 80% of its value to the dollar in less than a year and depositors losing access to their life savings that they had kept in Lebanese banks.
Today, the inflation rate is running at 264 percent and the majority of the population are unable to make ends meet, while justice for the victims of the Port explosion remains elusive.
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