“We’re all in a panic! », The residents

« We were still sitting at home when we felt the earth shake. We ran to the balcony and saw thick black smoke on the horizon ”. Wissam, a resident of the Lebanese capital, was in a building in Baabda, a suburb of Beirut, when the double explosion occurred. A little before 6 p.m. two strong explosions in the port of Beirut shook the whole region for miles around.

→ READ. Lebanon: explosions in Beirut in the port area, our dossier

The impressive images and videos relayed on social networks show an opaque gray smoke followed by a breath of surprising force with a glowing plume that resembles an atomic bomb.

Residents of Saïda, a town 45 km south on the coast, felt the tremors. For the time being, its origin is not known but the whole country is in shock. The number of dead and injured has not yet been specified. Georges Kettaneh, president of the Lebanese Red Cross, spoke of “Hundreds of wounded” in a statement on Lebanese LBC television. “We are overwhelmed by phone calls. “

The streets in the center of the capital are covered with dust and broken glass. “We’re all in a panic. I was in my apartment in Antalias [28 minutes de voiture de Beyrouth]. I tried to reach my whole family but the network was blocked. The explosion threw me to the ground ”, testifies Renée, resident on the fifth floor of a building.

Painful memories

This dramatic incident brings back bad memories to the population: “I was in the car, with the windows closed. I felt like a vacuum cleaner was removing all the air around me. We thought of the explosions of 2012 and 2013, those that took place in Beirut. My parents wanted to come home to see if there was any damage; but I didn’t want to because in the past explosions, there was a first explosion then a second so that there were more people killed because people were running ”, says Marcelle, still nervous.

This last event is an additional ordeal, faced with all the problems that the population has endured for several months. A deep economic crisis, an epidemic of coronavirus which doctors are unable to overcome, and an unstable regional political climate …

→ REPORT. Lebanon: widespread chaos in a bankrupt country

The 32-year-old feels exhausted: “We can no longer, we already have the economic crisis, that of the coronavirus. We struggle every day to survive and then we have explosions like that… It’s very tiring to live in this country. “

Rumors are already circulating among the inhabitants, on a possible link between this accident and the judgment to come Friday on the murder of the former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, killed in an attack in 2005. But the authorities do not establish any link for the moment and remain cautious about the causes of the incident.

“It appears that there is a warehouse containing material confiscated for years, and it appears that it was very explosive material”, indicated the director general of the General Security Abbas Ibrahim, questioned by televisions while moving in the sector. “The services concerned are carrying out the investigation, they will say what the nature of the incident is”, he added. Lebanese President Michel Aoun convened Tuesday evening a “Urgent meeting” of the Superior Council of Defense.

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