Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 30 September 2020

'Heroes always survive': Families of Beirut explosion missing plead for news

Tatiana Hasrouty's 'hardworking and brave' father Ghassan is among those still missing after Tuesday's blast

A day after two catastrophic explosions tore through Lebanon's capital Beirut, heart-broken families are still desperately trying to find news of loved ones while picking through the shattered wreck of their homes and neighbourhoods.

"We’re devastated, we’re just aching to hear a good story," Tatiana Hasrouty, whose father Ghassan has been missing since yesterday, told The National from Beirut. "We just want to hear something about him. We’re crying all the time and we couldn’t sleep."

Mr Hasrouty went to work as a manager at the operating room for the port's underground chambers at 6.30am on Tuesday. His family last spoke to him when he called his wife at 5.30pm, asking for a pillow and blanket.

He was so snowed under with work he intended to stay the night.

Before any of the family were able to leave their home in the Sin Al Fil district with the supplies, the first explosion happened.

The second broke all the windows in the house.

"We turned on the TV. At first, they said that they were targeting former-prime minister [Saad] Hariri, and then they said it was at the port. We started calling him and texting him, but nothing. And still now, nothing," she said.

The family believe he and seven of his co-workers are trapped beneath the rubble at the port, and they fear no one is trying to help them. They have contacted the Health Ministry and visited hospitals but have found no trace of him yet.

Mr Hasrouty, 59, has worked at the operations room for 38 years and suffers from hypertension.

"My father is a great, hardworking man. He’s so brave and he taught us to be too," said Ms Hasrouty.

"He takes really good care of us, of everyone he knows. Everybody loves him because he is kind to everybody. He would never let anyone down and I truly believe he is a hero, and heroes always survive."

The family do not believe the authorities are doing enough to find those who are missing, and they have not done enough to keep them informed of what is happening.

Around 100 people are thought to still be missing following the explosion of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate at Beirut port, causing such a large blast that a seismic event of 3.3 magnitude was recorded.

At least 113 died on Wednesday, with thousands injured and around 300,000 left homeless the extent of the destruction was so great – nearly 50 per cent of Beirut is damaged.

An Instagram account set up to assist the search efforts for those lost in the Beirut explosion has amassed almost 92,000 followers in a day. It posts the images of missing loved ones along with their names and last-known location.

On Wednesday afternoon, Cyprus’ foreign minister said two police helicopters were on their way to the Lebanese capital with 10 emergency response personnel and eight sniffer dogs to help locate survivors. International rescuers from all over the world also began to arrive to help sift through wreckage and rubble.

However, for Ms Hasrouty, it is the Lebanese government who need to step up.

"If you notice so much help is coming from foreign countries – our country isn’t working enough," she said.

Updated: August 10, 2020 10:08 AM

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