Beirut port blast claims another victim, 13 months later

Accountant Ibrahim Harb suffered a serious head wound in the explosion

Relatives of Ibrahim Harb, 35, who was critically injured in the massive explosion at Beirut's port last year and died on Monday nearly 14 months after the blast, mourn during his funeral procession in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: AP
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A man injured in the Beirut port explosion has succumbed to injuries 13 months after the explosion.

Ibrahim Harb, 35, suffered serious head injuries after 2,500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded at the port in August last year, leaving him in a coma for three months.

He then spent almost a year at a rehabilitation centre, drifting in and out of consciousness until his family moved him home last week.

He was there for three days before dying on Monday night.

Mr Harb was laid to rest in Beirut on Tuesday, in an emotional funeral. His death raised the number of people killed in the port explosion to at least 215.

“May God punish whoever was behind it. What else can we say?” his brother Mazen told AP.

Mr Harb, an accountant, had been working at his office in downtown Beirut when the blast happened. He leaves behind a fiance.

Ahmad Mroue, who runs the Lebanese NGO Maan, which works with victims of the blast, said that the death coming on the same day as the suspension of the port blast investigation only underlined the unwillingness of Lebanon's political class to see justice served.

“It’s really sad that we lost another person. Unfortunately, the politicians in this country count them only as numbers, they don’t look at them as human beings. They deserve justice,” he said.

“What happened yesterday, just before Ibrahim died was really sad because again we see how politicians are treating the investigation and the judge – the main thing they are doing now is blocking justice.”

The port blast was suspended for a second time after a former minister lodged a complaint, questioning the lead judge’s impartiality.

Nouhad Machnouq, a former interior minister, filed the complaint on Monday, saying that Tarek Bitar, who is heading the investigating, was acting beyond his remit.

Mr Machnouq, who is one of four former ministers facing questioning in relation to the blast, requested the removal of Mr Bitar, prompting the investigation's freezing.

The suspension prompted outrage among families of the blast’s victims, yet lawyers of Maj Gen Abbas Ibrahim, the head of the influential General Security agency, accused Mr Bitar of populism in running the investigation.

“It is unfortunate that Judge Bitar experienced the disappointments of the legal breaches that he reaped during his populist management of the port explosion file,” he said in a statement.

He accused Mr Bitar of acting to “dilute the truth and underline it with fictitious heroics”.

The investigation has been beset by delays and complaints, with high-profile figures repeatedly refusing to show up when summoned for questioning.

Earlier this month, former prime minister Hassan Diab left the country to visit family in the US, missing his scheduled questioning.

Updated: September 28, 2021, 2:33 PM