Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Beirut, marking the first anniversary of the devastating port blast and demanding justice for its victims. One year on, nobody has been held accountable for the catastrophe.
Mass protests hit the streets of the Lebanese capital on Wednesday, which marked one year since the explosion that leveled Beirut’s port and wrecked parts of the city.
The protesters marched through the city, demanding justice for the victims and urging punishment for those responsible for the catastrophe.
امام مستشفى الروم التي تضررت في #٤_آب#انفجار_مرفأ_بيروتpic.twitter.com/ZaTmIfPPQZ
Demonstrators were seen carrying banners with photos of the victims of the explosion, amid a sea of the country’s national flags.
مسيرة نقابتي المهندسين والمهندسات والمحامين والمحاميات وعدد من نقابات المهن الحرة، مع اهالي ضحايا جريمة #٤_آبpic.twitter.com/zH0YNu71r1
“يلا إرحل ميشال عون” في شوارع #بيروت، في ذكرى تفجير 4 آب. #أخبار_الساحةpic.twitter.com/zNlbjKvzTz
The marchers were greeted and cheered by the city’s residents, who chanted messages of support from their windows, footage from the scene shows.
Solidarity from the surrounding building for the #BeirutExplosion March – chanting that Lebanon, Beirut will rise again ❤️ pic.twitter.com/pk7d0DKxIU
While law enforcement was not seen around the march itself, dramatic footage circulating online purports to show the country’s military checking vehicles and detaining activists heading for downtown Beirut to partake in the protests.
في الذوق. الجيش يفتش السيارات القادمة الى وسط بيروت. ويعتقل الناشط ايلي هيكل. بحسب ما وصلني #٤_آب#انفجار_مرفأ_بيروتpic.twitter.com/6o5T6MW4Rz
A separate rally was held by the ruins of the city’s port, with several hundred protesters in attendance. The rally is expected to grow bigger as the marchers reach the location.
The blast, which became one of the most powerful non-nuclear explosions ever recorded, rocked the city back on August 4, 2020. The blast occurred at one of the Beirut port’s warehouses, which stored some 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive compound widely used in fertilizers and bombs. The compound, seized from an arrested vessel, rested in the warehouse for six years before the catastrophe.
Some 218 people were killed by the blast, while more than 7,500 sustained non-fatal injuries. The blast obliterated the city’s port, sinking multiple ships and sending a powerful shockwave through the city, which heavily damaged hundreds of industrial and residential buildings.
Despite the devastating impact of the blast, no one has been held responsible for the catastrophe. The sloppy investigation has garnered international condemnation as well, with human rights group Amnesty International accusing the country’s authorities of “shamelessly obstructing” the probe.
“Lebanese authorities promised a swift investigation; instead they have brazenly blocked and stalled justice at every turn, despite a tireless campaign for justice and criminal accountability by survivors and families of victims,” the group said ahead of the grim anniversary.
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