To see Beirut and its port area with a huge mushroom cloud hanging above is a truly surreal sight. But what is not surreal in battered Lebanese capital?
A big part of the downtown looks flattened, thoroughly ruined.
One of my Japanese friends based in Beirut exclaimed:
“It looks like Hiroshima!”
Who is behind the carnage? What really happened? Nobody is claiming responsibility. Was it sabotage, a direct attack against Lebanon, or a politically motivated terrorist act?
What is certain is that the “earth moved.” One of the explosions, equivalent to a 4.5-magnitude earthquake, ruined everything in its proximity. Blasts were heard all the way across the sea in Cyprus, while some 20 kilometers away, window panels at Rafik Hariri International Airport, got shattered.
For five years, I have been observing from my window and terrace this magnificent sight: tall, often snow-covered mountains, huge bay, and vast port area with cranes, tankers, and mighty container cargo ships.
Once there was a small fire in the port, and I could see each and every detail of it. But now, everything changed. Two explosions, one relatively small and one enormous, turned the entire port area of Beirut into a war zone, a target of carpet bombing. Or the aftermath of a nuclear explosion.
People running away, in horror. Women and children shouting, crying, clinging to each other. The number of casualties is still unknown. Preliminary reports speak of at least 73 persons killed, but there are most likely hundreds of those who lost their lives. There are those still buried under the rubble, burned beyond recognition. One entire fire brigade just ‘vanished.’ Red Cross reported at least 2.200 people injured. Soon after, the number shut up to 4,000. Several crew members on the UNIFIL vessel, which was docked in the Beirut port, injured. The horrible count goes up and up.
Lebanese medical system, mostly privatized and in terrible shape, cannot cope with the carnage.
Red smoke is levitating above the coast. What is it, really?
Speculations and preliminary analyses are the most alarming.
The Canadian Embassy began headcount of its staff.