Mystery surrounds whereabouts of father said to have been found alive at sea 30 hours after explosion
Family scour hospitals in search of father Amine Al Zahid who was blasted into sea
Lebanese ministers have joined the efforts to locate Amine Al Zahid after the family said they still do not know the whereabouts of the father of two who the army said they had rescued at sea 30 hours after the Beirut explosion.
His 32-year-old brother Mohammed, speaking to The National by phone, said Amine had still not been found as of 9.30am on Friday and that coverage of his case had drawn the Lebanese government into the search effort.
“We have received several confirmations from officials that he is alive and has been saved. However we haven’t been told anything regarding his whereabouts,” he said, his voice stuttering.
“I have been in touch with the Health Ministry and I was told that three ministers are working closely with all pertinent authorities to locate Amine’s place.”
The manager of a company at Beirut's port is believed to have been thrown into the Mediterranean when 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded on Tuesday. The Lebanese government has blamed negligence for the explosion that has killed at least 149 people and left thousands injured.
Amine, from Beirut’s Tariq Al Jdideh area, was found on Thursday morning by Lebanese army seamen, injured but alive.
But in the chaos after the blasts, locating him has proven difficult.
Mohammed said the family had not been able to find out anything about the nature of Amine’s injuries except what they saw in an image that surfaced on Thursday in which he is shown bloodied and lying injured on dry land next to a Lebanese military officer.
“Everybody confirms he is alive but we cannot track him down,” said the brother, who works in a Beirut car garage.
The family was told that Amine had been picked up by the sailors at 4am on Thursday and handed over to the Lebanese Civil Defence.
Waiting at the entrance to the port for information, Mohammed checked with the Lebanese Red Cross and civil defence, who confirmed that his brother was alive.
The family, including Amine’s two brothers and two sisters, and their friends have launched an anguished search for him, visiting every hospital in Beirut and outside the city in hopes of locating him. The National contacted Beirut’s largest hospitals but none had a record of him.
His case has attracted widespread attention on social media as the search continues.
Rescue workers are making desperate efforts to locate survivors and victims in the wreckage of the blast, which devastated half of the Lebanese capital.
At least four more bodies have been recovered in the last 24 hours.
The blast shredded a large grain silo at the port, devastated nearby neighbourhoods and left several city blocks littered with glass and rubble.
French and Russian rescue teams with dogs were searching the port area on Friday, a day after French President Emmanuel Macron paid a visit to the site, promising aid and vowing to press for reforms by Lebanon's long-entrenched political leaders.
Desperate for information, Mohammed has posted a picture of Amine and the family's contact details on social media, alongside hundreds of other images being shared of loved ones who had not been seen since the blast.
“Ten minutes prior to the explosion, he sent me a photo of the fire that preceded the explosion,” Mohammed told The National on Thursday.
The message was the last he heard from his brother.
Updated: August 7, 2020 06:54 PM