Lebanon and that Horrific Day
Bordered by Israel in the south and Syria in the north is the mountainous country of Lebanon. It also shares its borders with Cyprus. Officially known as the Republic of Lebanon, the country is regarded for being the smallest recognized sovereign state on the mainland Asian continent.
The tourism industry in Lebanon has been a major backbone to Lebanon’s economy and revenue. Following are some of the primitive spots of the country that have been visited by many tourists over the years.
- The National Museum of Beirut is one of the most primitive cultural spots of Lebanon’s capital Beirut. It is known to display a stunning range of artefacts and collections that depict the vivid history behind Lebanon. A trip down the country’s civilisations is what one can expect from this museum. Some of the most prestigious things of the National Museum of Beirut include the Phoenician gilded bronze figurines, a series of human-faced Phoenician sarcophagi and a frescoed Roman tomb. It also houses various Byblos figurines, obsidian-and-gold coffers and Egyptian gold pectorals and the ivory make-up boxes from Saida. You could choose to learn more about the museum by watching the 12-minute documentary that is screened in the audiovisual room of the foyer. It is played every hour between 9 am to 4 pm.
- Located on the Mediterranean Sea coast, Byblos is one of the most ancient and inhabited towns in the world. Byblos is known as the largest city of Lebanon. The city has been marked as a UNESCO Heritage site for being the first spot to be occupied between 8800 and 7000 BC. It is famous for being witness to the beginnings of the Phoenician civilization. This can be witnessed clearly by strolling around the town and viewing its structures. Byblos was earlier the chief harbour for the export of cedar and wood to Egypt. Soon it became a great trading centre and was addressed as Kubna. It was earlier also addressed as Kebny, proof of which is mentioned in the Egyptian hieroglyphic records.
- The Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque is a popular mosque located in the capital of Lebanon, Beirut. It is regarded for being the biggest mosque in Lebanon. After receiving a donation from the late Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, a foundation stone was laid in November 2002. The architecture of the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque is inspired by the Ottoman empire period that covers an area of 11,000 square meters. It was only in 2008 that it was opened to visitors. The Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque contains multiple domes that contribute to its stunning structure. Its blue colour dome measures to around 48 metres and has minarets of 65 meters. All of the domes of the mosque have been made from light blue tiles that enhance its features. The Mohammad Al-Amin mosque’s structure has been often compared to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque.
- Located in Beirut are the popular Roman Berytus or the Roman Baths. The baths are ancient Roman thermae which were discovered between 1968-1969. They went under some major renovations in the mid-1990s. The bathhouse acted as the place of meeting in the yesteryears. It earlier had four major bath complexes. One of the baths that have been ruined over the years has been preserved and is occasionally used as a performance space. This is used as a medium to thus exhibiting the ancient traditions of the site. One of the Roman Baths is used as an artistic performance and concert space too. The current site also houses some exquisite Mediterranean-style gardens that contain a variety of medicinal plants that were once used in bathing balms.
- Martyrs’ Square is the popular ancient public square of Beirut in Lebanon. The spot has been named after the 6 May 1916 executions that were ordered by Djemal Pasha, an Ottoman military leader during World War I. In 1931, the memorial square was inaugurated to honour the martyrs that were executed under the Ottoman rule. During the 1950s the square became a popular spot for cinema goers and cafes. It was earlier named Sahat al-Burj, but the Municipality of Beirut refurbished the square in 1878 as by then it had become the main meeting place of the city. During the Civil War, Martyrs’ Square acted as the demarcation line that divided the city in half.
What happened on the 4th of August?
A massive explosion occurred in the capital city of Lebanon, Beirut on 4th August at 6:07 p.m. This did not just leave the place with shattering monuments, buildings, hospitals, windows but much more. More than 135 people have died due to the explosion and thousands have been injured and affected. The port is said to be surrounded by numerous populated and tourist favourite sites. The explosion has come as a shock to many. Especially the residents that managed to survive.
What was the cause?
The cause of the blast has been said to be linked to a large number of explosives that are affirmed to be confiscated. Some of the popular sites that have incurred damage due to the explosions include the Martyrs’ Square, the Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael neighbourhoods, fixtures of the Beirut bar scene, the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, Grand Serail, the government palace, the Baabda Palace and the official residence of the country’s President. It is being said that they were stored in a warehouse near the city’s port. Authorities on the ground are working on providing aid to the survivors and helping those stuck around the vicinity.
There have been many opposing reports of what led to the explosion. Earlier, the explosion was blamed on a major fire at a warehouse for firecrackers near the port. On Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Hassan Diab conveyed that about 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate had been stored at the port for the past six years without any preventive measures. Ammonium nitrate is extremely highly explosive material.
Court documents obtained by CNN show that the ammonium nitrate came to Beirut in 2013 on a Russian-owned ship. It was halted in Beirut due to some financial difficulties and uncertainty among the crew. From there it never left for its original destination, Mozambique. The crew reportedly abandoned the ship, which was detained by authorities. The ammonium nitrate on board then was stored in a hangar at the port.
Aid for Lebanon
Many world leaders are also coming forwards and providing aid to help Lebanon recover to the maximum extent. Lebanon’s state-run media reported that 90% of hotels in the capital have been severely damaged. The explosion impact is said to have been so excruciating that it flipped away cars, shattered glass windows and led to the crumbling of houses. One of the buildings that shattered included the headquarters of the former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and CNN’s bureau in downtown Beirut.
Just after a few hours of the explosion, many authorities and humanitarian organizations around began search and rescue efforts. The Lebanese President has directed all the armed forces to counter the disaster and patrol the affected areas. The Lebanese Presidency’s Twitter account has allocated 100 billion Lebanese pounds. According to the government rate, the amount is said to be around $66,335,000. This amount will be utilized to help deal with the effects of the blast.
Many aid groups such as UNICEF and the Red Cross have gathered teams on the ground. They have further spread out urgent open calls for blood donations as well.
As the hospitals were quickly overwhelmed with affected victims, doctors quickly managed to conduct triage as dozens flooded into emergency rooms. The emergency section of the American University of Beirut which is one of their major hospitals could not receive more patients. Four hospitals of Beirut were out of service because they had sustained severe damage in the explosion.
The Lebanese Red Cross has announced that multiple temporary shelters have been set up to provide food, hygiene kits for around 1,000 families. The United Nations and World Health Organization are also working with Lebanese authorities to provide aid to the affected people.
Further Russia has sent five planes carrying medical equipment and a team of doctors to set up a field hospital in Beirut.
Damage suffered by Beirut
It is being affirmed that the damage covered a distance of around 10 kilometres whose effects were felt in Cyprus, around 240 kilometres away too. The explosion’s impact also leads to an earthquake of a 3.3 magnitude. The governor of Beirut, Marwan Abboud told the reporters that the explosion has caused them estimated damage of three to five billion US dollars. He further added that the entire country of Beirut would not be able to peacefully sleep inside their homes anymore. Over half of Beirut’s population have homes that are unlivable for the foreseeable future, especially for the next two weeks. The secretary-general of the Kataeb political party, Nazar Najarian is among those who were affected by the explosion. He was in his office when the explosion happened and died due to its atrocious effects.
The documents that have been discovered show that Badri Daher, the Director of Lebanese Customs, warned for years of the extreme danger there was behind leaving the ammonium nitrate at the port.
He further stated that the customs officials had written to legal authorities around six times requesting for the dangerous cargo to be removed from the port. But all the requests were not paid any attention to, the repercussion of which thousands of people sadly had to pay.
An investigation is also being initiated to look into the cause of the explosion. Major revelations are said to be announced about the dangerous warehouse which has been present since 2014.
However, many experts have cautioned that the blast could have been caused by more than just ammonium nitrate.
A Lebanese army helicopter flies over the scene where an explosion hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Prime Minister Hassan Diab, in a short televised speech, has appealed to all countries and friends of Lebanon to extend help to the small nation, saying: “We are witnessing a real catastrophe.” (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)