Two months have passed since the sinking of a migrant boat off the shores of the Lebanese northern city of Tripoli that was carrying more than 70 people. However, the bodies of dozens of persons are still at the bottom of the sea, as Lebanese authorities have been unable to recover them.
Reports of a submarine brought in by a Lebanese association in Australia to retrieve the bodies were followed by the families with little hope and a lot of skepticism.
Ameed Dandashi lost his three children in the tragedy, when he was attempting to emigrate with his family from Lebanon towards Europe on April 23. His surviving wife is unable to speak from the shock. She hasn't spoken a word since.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “I can no longer look at the sea, nor approach it. We are not talking about what happened because it is beyond our capacity to bear. Our life is a real hell. We do not sleep, eat or drink, and we are suffer from psychological trauma. They burned our hearts and deprived us of hearing the word dad and mom. They are monsters.”
Ameed and his wife miraculously escaped drowning, but the couple lost all their children: Assad (40 days), Jawad (8 years), and Fidaa (5 years). These children are still missing, along with dozens of other people.
The army managed to rescue 45 people after the accident, and retrieved six bodies. Estimates suggest that 23 people are still unaccounted for.
Dandashi, who is in charge of communications with the concerned authorities on behalf of the families of the victims, said that the submarine that is expected to retrieve the boat and the bodies was donated by Lebanese immigrants in Australia. It was sent by a Lebanese association there, and is owned by an Indian company based in Spain.
He added that the submarine would not reach the shores of Beirut before July 13.
The arrival of the vessel has been repeatedly delayed. The brother of the missing, Mohammad al-Hamwi, says: “We have been waiting for two months.”
“All we want is for them to bring us the bodies of our dead so we can bury them in peace,” said Mazen Monzer Talib, 24, who is waiting to recover the bodies of his mother, 48, father 48, older brother, 26, and younger brother, 10.
Mazen put his only surviving brother, 12, in the custody of his married sister, who was supposed to join them.
“Only my father knew the details of the trip. He told us to pack just two hours before departure. My mother was the most enthusiastic, and she did not object. We wanted to get to Greece and then Italy, and then we would manage,” Mazen said.
He lives alone today in his home, after the death of his parents and brothers.
“Yes, I work, but I suffer from asthma and cannot buy my medicine. My father was sick… He was hospitalized several times, and we could not find medicine for him. Our goal was to reach a safe country.”