Disasters & Accidents

Life in destroyed Beirut building illuminated by candle

By Ana María Guzelian

Beirut, Aug 10 (efe-epa).- Only a candle illuminates Anastasia Khoury’s apartment in Beirut after it was severely damaged by the explosion that hit the city’s port.

Almost a week later, the 80-year-old is still sitting listening to the radio in what is left of her house, where she has lived her entire life.

Central Beirut’s Gemmayze was one of the worst-hit neighborhoods by the blast and Anastasia has had no water or electricity since Tuesday.

She described it as “worse than the war”, referring to the conflict Lebanon endured for 15 years between 1975 and 1990.

Anastasia has live through Lebanon’s 15-year-long civil war and the 2006 conflict between the Hezbollah Shiite group and Israel.

“Me and my husband used to run the shelters under the electricity company,” she told Efe.

“There were a lot of airstrikes during the war but nothing like this.”

The other residents in her building in front of the port have left their apartments and sought out other places to live.

They are among around 300,000 people who have been left homeless in central Beirut, according to figures from local authorities.

But Anastasia, who was born in Beirut to a Ukrainian family, does not want to leave.

She decided on the day of the explosion to stay at home after running to take refuge under the door frame, surrounded by the glass from her windows that exploded in the blast wave.

A group of volunteers has cleaned the place a little bit but her apartment remains rickety.

The only thing she has managed to fix was the door, which cost $650.

“The entrance door was open the whole time and there are thieves coming at night,” she said.

“They even stole my meal, blouse, two dresses. Underwear too.”

She walks around her house, without her dentures which she cannot find, without being able to go upstairs to the roof where the water tank is.

“Nobody looked at the house,” she said and fears that another explosion could occur.

Alone and without children, she takes comfort in her nephews who come to visit her.

“My sister’s children called me to see if I was okay, they came and they left,” she said.

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