Man injured in Beirut port explosion dies, 14 months later
BEIRUT (AP) — A Lebanese man who was critically injured in the massive explosion at Beirut’s port last year has died, nearly 14 months after the blast, his family said Tuesday.
Ibrahim Harb, a 35-year-old accountant, was at his downtown office near the port when the explosion occurred, wiping out the port and devastating nearby neighborhoods. He died at his parents’ home on Monday night, his brother, Mazen Harb, told The Associated Press.
The death brings to at least 215 the number of people killed by the blast, according to official records.
On Aug. 4, 2020, hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material used in fertilizers, ignited after a massive fire at the port. It later emerged that the nitrate had been improperly stored in a port warehouse for years, and that senior political and security officials knew of its existence and did nothing about it.
Along with the scores killed, more than 6,000 people were injured, many of them from broken glass, flying furniture and debris.
Ibrahim, who was engaged to be married the following month, suffered serious head injuries and spent more than three months in hospital in a coma after the blast, his brother said. Later, semi-conscious and bed-ridden, he stayed at a rehabilitation center until three days ago when the family decided to bring him home, said the brother. He died on Monday evening.
“He did not last after three days at home,” Mazen said over the telephone before heading to his brother’s funeral.
More than a year later, no one has been held to account for the explosion. On Monday, the lead judge investigating the explosion had to suspend his work in the case, amid legal challenges from politicians and a growing campaign by Lebanon’s political class against him.
Judge Tarek Bitar is the second judge to lead the complicated probe. His predecessor was removed following similar legal challenges by senior officials he had accused of negligence that led to the blast.
“May God punish whoever was behind it. What else can we say?” Mazen said.
On Tuesday, the Lebanese army said four people were arrested over ties to a truck found with bags of ammonium nitrate found earlier this month in the eastern Bekaa Valley. The two Lebanese and two Syrians were referred to judicial authorities for buying, storing and transporting “banned products.”
A total of 15 persons were detained over the case in recent days but 11 were released after questioning, the army said. It gave no further details and it wasn’t immediately known if the bags of nitrate found in the truck had been removed from Beirut’s port prior to last year’s explosion. In 2013, there were 2,750 tons of nitrate stored at the port warehouse, according to documents, but over the years, large amounts were allegedly removed from the port.
Local media have said the nitrogen level in the nitrate found in the Bekaa Valley was the same as in the highly explosive and dangerous chemicals stored at the port.