The Blast Episode 4: the Beirut explosion one year on

‘The Fallout’ - The final instalment of a ‘Beyond the Headlines’ special four-part investigation into the Beirut explosion on August 4, 2020

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What do you do when the city where you grew up, the neighbourhoods you fell in love with and in are destroyed in an instant?

The final episode of The Blast is about the fallout.

The hours and days after the blast, when residents took to the streets to sweep the shards of glass and piles of rubble. The days and weeks after as politicians bickered and resigned. The weeks and months after as the judges appointed to investigate the blast and find out who was responsible painstakingly tried to build their — yet to be published — case.

We hear about how the events of August 4 affected the lives of people we heard from in previous episodes. We hear how people feel about their politicians, their country and their lives a year on.

We ask them, what does justice look like to you as we ask experts how close Lebanon is to achieving that.

On August 4, 2020, the heart of Beirut was ripped apart by a huge explosion caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate detonating at the city’s port. Finbar, like many others, spent the rest of that day being seen by doctors at blown-apart hospitals. The next days too were focused on recovery.

Now, a year on, he sought to get answers to questions that so many in Lebanon have — who was responsible for the Beirut blast, how did the ammonium nitrate end up there, who knew about it and what caused the explosion.

The Blast from Beyond the Headlines traces the events of that tragic day.

In Episode 1, Finbar enlists Erin Clare Brown, The National’s Tunis correspondent and resident Russian speaker. They track down Boris Prokoshev, the captain of the Rhosus — the ship that first brought the cargo of ammonium nitrate to Beirut Port. Boris tells us about the ill-fated voyage from the start, how a detour brought them to Beirut and how it — and he — got stuck there.

In Episode 2, Finbar enlisted his Beirut colleague Sunniva Rose and they headed down to Beirut Port to find out who knew the ammonium nitrate was sitting in hanger 12, who was responsible for it and how it sat there for six years.

In Episode 3, Finbar and Sunniva sit down with some of those whose lives were changed forever on August 4 to hear what happened on the day Beirut exploded.

We conclude The Blast by looking at what’s happened in the year since the explosion, who has been accused, how life has changed and what justice the victims of that explosion are seeking.

Updated: August 05, 2021, 5:11 AM