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Agonized Families of Beirut Blast Victims Await Fate of the Missing

Agonized Families of Beirut Blast Victims Await Fate of the Missing

Friday, 7 August, 2020 - 11:00
A Lebanese woman a picture of her missing husband. (AP)

Three days after the explosion that rocked Beirut, dozens of people are still searching for their missing relatives, going from one hospital to the next. They gather at the point nearest to the explosion site at the port, pleading with officials, without receiving clear answers, especially concerning those who disappeared while in the port, the laborers and employees.

Some of the families complain that digging has not started yet, or that it is only being done for a few hours, under the pretext of power cuts, a shortage of drilling machines or even the employees’ working hours.

Emilie Hasrouti is among them. Her brother Ghassan and his colleagues are still under the rubble inside the port, where she says that digging has not started yet due to" lack of electricity and the lack of rubble-lifting equipment," as she wrote on her Twitter account, adding that "the family offered to rent equipment at their own expense”. She only wants to find her brother, at least to console her mother, "a sick 70-year-old mother who is living a very difficult situation."

Emile's pain is no less than that of Shafiq, the father of a young man, Imad Zahreddine (39 years), who went missing inside the port and whose family is still waiting his fate.

"I promise them to stand idly and just shake my head to tell them whether or not the corpse is my son." With these words, Shafiq tells those concerned, asking them to let him enter the port, adding, "Why are they preventing me from entering? This is my son. There are thousands who enter, and I would do nothing but search for my son.”

Imad's father tells Asharq Al-Awsat that he has been standing at the point nearest to the port since his son went missing, waiting for any news about him. He rushes towards every ambulance that leaves, asking them if they found any corpses or living persons.

This father has not left the port where his son worked for about twenty years, except to go to hospitals. He goes from one hospital to another but has not received a clear answer yet. He says: “They tell us that there are bodies in hospitals and we went to each and every hospital. They do not allow us to identify the body, they did not conduct a DNA analysis,” adding, "they tell us that the forensic pathologist should see the body before; does the doctor know my son?"

He recounts how he runs in a vicious circle, how he calls the Ministry of Health hotline, and does not get a satisfactory answer. Having lost his voice from crying, he says “just tell us where to start and we will search for our children”... “Flames only burn the hands that hold it”.

Shafiq does not deny the possibility that his son has passed away, as he repeats: “we are believers, and death to us is right.” But he only wants confirmation, maybe even if it is confirmation of something as sad as the news which reached the family of Hassan, who returned to his family as a corpse a day after his disappearance.

"He is no longer missing," one of his relatives said in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, adding: "We found him yesterday morning, he was under the rubble in the port. He was dead, and I don't know what to say."

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