Lebanese gather around Christmas tree to mourn victims of port blast

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Lebanese people on Monday gathered around a Christmas tree decorated with names of the victims of the devastating port blast that took place in Beirut’s port in August. The blast killed at least 181 people, injured more than 6,500 and left scores of people homeless.

Relatives of the blast victims spoke to AFP about losing their loved ones.

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“George was from the church. George wanted to get married, his birthday was on the 27th of the month,” father of port blast victim George Al-Omair said.\

“Instead of preparing the Christmas tree and celebrating, instead of getting married and filling the house with children, he’s gone up to Jesus and Mary.”

Beirut’s August 4 explosion left 300,000 people homeless and caused $15 billion in direct damage, according to a report issued by the presidency of the council of ministers.

“The festival will be here soon but we won’t have Tharwat with us like we used to every year. Instead of taking photos of ourselves with Tharwat, we are taking photos next to a tree with his name on it, all because of the fault of those behind the explosion,” a relative of port blast victim Tharwat Hoteit told AFP.

Around 40 percent of Beirut has been severely damaged due to the explosion, according to an impact assessment report published in August.

“I want to tell him that during all this celebration, not a day passed without remembering you.. I want to tell him you remain in our hearts for the last soul and we will keep fighting to know the truth for the last soul, for you and for this beautiful laugh,” said the mother of Faris Kiwan, another port blast victim.

- With AFP.

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