Days after a massive warehouse explosion ripped through the city, throughout Beirut, families sit inside their homes surrounded by shattered windows and broken furniture, trying to pick up the pieces and wondering about their futures.
Fashion designer Ramzi Tabiat’s home was damaged after the biggest blast in Beirut’s history rocked the Lebanese capital, killing 154 people, injuring 5,000, destroying a swathe of the Mediterranean city.
On Friday as he packed up what remained of his belongings before leaving his Beirut apartment to stay with a friend, Tabiat said friends and neighbors were the only thing keeping the country together.
Across Lebanon people have been opening their houses to those affected by Tuesday’s blast, which left nearly a quarter of a million people homeless.
Others refuse to leave their homes.
“I wouldn’t think about leaving in order to show those who are doing this to us that we won’t leave and we don’t kneel to anyone,” said 65 year old Youssef Afif, as he recounted the moment the explosion hit, destroying his home.
Lebanese authorities said 2,750 tonnes of highly explosive ammonium nitrate, used in fertilizers and bombs, had been stored for six years without safety measures at the port warehouse which exploded.
President Michel Aoun said the investigation would also examine whether it was caused by a bomb or other external forces.
Anger amongst Beirut’s residents has boiled over at the ruling elite, who have presided over an economic collapse. A small crowd of protesters took to the streets on Thursday marking a return to the kind of protests that had become a feature of life as Lebanese watched their savings evaporate and currency disintegrate, while government decision-making floundered.
Unlike her father, Youssef’s daughter Mira would prefer to leave for a fresh start, saying the family should go abroad instead of paying money to rebuild their lives in Beirut.
“We feel like strangers in our own country…in a second you could say that I (realised that I) have nothing left; I have no home, I have no bed, I have no room,” she said.