Lebanon declares day of mourning to remember Beirut blast

By August 4, 2023

Lebanon (MNN) — Three years ago today, over 2,500 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a Beirut port warehouse exploded, killing 220 people and wounding 6,000.

“Within less than a minute, 300,000 people were displaced, and over 200 people died instantly,” Heart for Lebanon’s Tom Atema says.

“Everybody knew it (the explosive material) was there. Nobody knew why it was there.”

Port of Beirut after the August 4 explosion.
(Photo by rashid khreiss on Unsplash)

Lebanese authorities declared today a national day of mourning, closing all government buildings. Protestors are in the streets nationwide, accusing politicians of obstructing the investigation.

“Nobody has been held accountable because nobody wants [anyone] to be held accountable,” Atema says.

“The judge in the case [of] the port explosion, for example. He was going down a certain road, and suddenly, he resigned. The new judge calls for the same thing, and nothing ever happens,” he continues.

“Can’t hold people accountable when everything’s corrupt.”

As described here:

In January 2023, [Judge Tarek Bitar’s] attempt to resume the investigation was thwarted by Lebanon’s Public Prosecutor, Ghassan Oueidat, who was himself charged by Bitar in the Beirut Blast case and summoned for investigation. Oueidat filed a lawsuit against Bitar, suspending the investigation, and ordered the release of all 17 suspects who had been detained in connection to the case. At least one suspect has since fled the country.

The “Beirut blast” is etched into the memories of thousands. Pray they will experience the healing only Christ can offer. Visit Heart for Lebanon’s website for more ways to help.

“It’s not easy talking to people that have lost everything. When you have nothing and lose something on top of nothing, the pain is deep and real. It takes months and months of conversations by our team and others in the country to help people deal with the pain,” Atema says.

“We always work with people to say, ‘You’ll never forgive and forget.’ You can’t forget the Beirut explosion. It’s too terrific. It’s too life-altering. [But] you have to forgive. Whatever that means in your world, you have to forgive so you can move on in a relationship with your family, your friends, and most importantly, a relationship with Jesus Christ.”




Header image is a screenshot of the August 4, 2020 explosion recorded on a Beirut security camera.