Two years after Beirut mega-blast, Lebanon hits new lows

Lebanon’s ruling class, accused of misrule, graft and gross negligence, has however clung firmly to power even as the people endure shortages of fuel, medicine and clean water.

“This ruling class is killing us every day,” Hasrouty said. “If we did not die in the blast, we are dying of hunger, from a lack of basic human rights.”

Power cuts last up to 23 hours a day, streets are dark at night and traffic lights out of service, leaving some districts illuminated mainly by the silo fires.

Lara Khatchikian, 51, whose apartment was badly hit two years ago, has watched the blazes, calling the sight “a nightmare”.

“I have felt fear, we couldn’t sleep,” she said. “It takes superhuman strength to live when you are constantly reminded of the blast.”

“DELIVER JUSTICE”

The government in April ordered the silos’ demolition, but this has been suspended, partially because of objections from victims’ relatives who want them preserved as a memorial.

French civil engineer Emmanuel Durand, who monitors the silos with sensors, has warned that he expected four more towers to collapse Thursday.

Meanwhile, the probe is also at risk of falling apart, as officials close to the powerful Hezbollah movement have curtailed the work of the lead investigator Tarek Bitar with a series of lawsuits.

A judicial official close to the investigations said judge Bitar’s work had been paused since Dec 23.

Hezbollah, which has repeatedly accused Bitar of bias, on Thursday condemned what it described as a two-year “intense political and media campaign, which contained false accusations” against it, and called for a “fair” investigation.

UN chief Antonio Guterres on Thursday reiterated his call for an “impartial, thorough and transparent investigation into the explosion”.

UN experts and groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had earlier relaunched an appeal to the United Nations to send a fact-finding mission.

The rights groups jointly declared that “it is now, more than ever, clear that the domestic investigation cannot deliver justice”.

Aya Majzoub of HRW said that an international investigation “may be the only hope for the millions of Lebanese people … to get the answers they deserve”.