After Beirut Blast, A Shocked Community Begins to Assess Losses

In the aftermath of the blast, Beirut residents are shocked
In the aftermath of the blast, Beirut residents are shocked

In the aftermath of the blast, Beirut residents are shocked

“Even during the Civil War we had not experienced anything like this,” said Shahan Kandaharian, the editor of Aztag Daily Newspaper as he compared Tuesday’s blast at the Beirut port to a high-magnitude earthquake.

On Wednesday, as Lebanese government officials elevated the death toll to 100 and declared that 4,000 people were injured, a shocked Armenian community began to assess the losses.

Kandaharian told media outlets in Armenia that 11 Armenian community members were confirmed dead. Other sources put the injured among the community at well above 250.

The powerful explosion that was felt as far away as Cyprus has turned Beirut into a disaster zone, with Kandaharian reporting significant losses to Lebanese Armenian, including community centers, churches, schools and other institutions, including the offices of the Aztag newspaper.

The impact of the explosion ripped through the Armenian-populated Bourdj Hammoud neighborhood where the Shaghzoyan Center that houses Aztag and serves as the headquarters of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau and Lebanon Central Committee was severely damaged. Homes and businesses in the neighborhood have been destroyed.

Kandaharian said that it would take a long time to have a full assessment of losses, but said the situation was devastating.

Lebanon has been experiencing one of the most significant political crisis in its history, with mass demonstrations beginning last fall being held to protest the socio-economic situation in Lebanon. Then came the coronavirus pandemic, sending the country into a tailspin.

Kandaharian highlighted the psychological toll the disaster has had on the community.

“During the Civil War, we have lived through rocket attacks, aerial bombardments and other blasts,” said Kandaharian adding that Tuesday’s explosion was unprecedented, and its after-effects too far reaching to fathom.

With the coronavirus pandemic hitting Lebanon hard, hospitals and emergency rooms were already filled to capacity when the blast not only sent thousands to seek medical help, but also destroyed some of the city’s key hospitals, from where patients were forced to evacuate.

Lebanese officials have said that the explosion took place at a depot where almost 3,000 tons of high-explosive ammonium nitrate was being stored. The debris and the toxic fumes released during the explosion adds an added concern for the people of Lebanon, the impact of which has yet to be assessed.

Immediately after the explosion, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of All Armenians toured Bourdj Hammoud to assess the damage, but more important, to meet with community members. According to Aztag, he began his walk through the neighborhood from the Lebanon Prelacy building, and one-by-one visited community centers, businesses and residences. He brought with him urgent economic assistance.

Armenian communities across the world have already mobilized to provide assistance to their brethren in Lebanon, with governments of Armenia and Artsakh pledge to send aid there.


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  1. HERAYER said:


  2. Tsoghig said:

    This is an unspeakable tragedy to a place that helped support and take care of Armenian orphans after the Genocide. Lebabon was a place of rebirth, of florid expansion of our population. Bourj Hammoud, where I walked through last May, hearing Armenian more than Arabic, walking into stores, all Armenian owned, seeing the Armenian flag and the zinanishan hanging out from every other balcony. However it also was a stark reality of poverty, the buildings all old and crumbly. I remember thinking to myself one 5.0 earthquake can wipe this whole place down to the ground…instead it was the ineptitude, incompetence, curropt government that wiped it out. I am lucky, my relatives were unhurt. Their homes however different story. All the glass blown out, floor tiles popped out of place. In a time when people can’t take their dollars out of the bank. I am praying and finacially supporting through the ARF but I dont know if it’ll be enough. Is it time for our community to leave? Asbarez’s reporting is always so thorough, thank you.

  3. Raffi said:

    Perpetrators should be condemned and brought to justice, bombing a facility withing civil population is a crime against humanity. DOESN’T MATTER WHO OR WHY.

  4. Antoine Bezdjian said:

    Jessica Bazdjian, a young nurse, decided to show up for her nightshift at the St. George Hospital in the Geitawi neighborhood one hour early. She had just passed through the entrance when the blast wave hit the hospital. “Her coworkers say that she was struck by the large glass door,” says her sister Rosaline. Just four minutes earlier, Jessica had sent her mother a WhatsApp message as she did every day: “I made it to work.”
    The rest of the family felt the blast from their home in the suburb of Bsalim, and Jessica could suddenly no longer be reached. They all headed into the city, parking their cars once they hit the traffic jam on the outskirts and riding on motorcycles driven by strangers the rest of the way. “When we got to the clinic, everything was dark and destroyed,” says Rosaline.
    Soldiers before wreckage of a ship
    Soldiers before wreckage of a ship Foto: Lorenzo Tugnoli / DER SPIEGEL
    Badly wounded patients were being treated in the streets, lit up by mobile phones, says Rosaline, who recognized her sister by her white trainers. “The ground around her was covered in blood. Jessica had a hole in her neck.” Dead at 23. Her colleagues fought hard to save her, twice injecting her heart with adrenaline. Even a week after Jessica’s death, the Bezdjians still hadn’t heard anything from the Lebanese state. “But we had to pick up her body early the next morning,” says her father George. “They didn’t have electricity in the hospital for the dead. The people up there in power didn’t even take care of that.”

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