Muhieddine El-Khatib was always aware of the risks that surrounded his job at the Port of Beirut, yet, he would religiously drive around in his car to enjoy the sunset and watch the pigeons flying in the seaside sky. August 4, 2020, stormed those peaceful moments and ruined the beautiful scenery he enjoyed on a daily basis.
It was another working day for Muhieddine who supervised laborers at the Port of Beirut. He recalls the events of the afternoon of August 4; there was a protest in front of the Ministry of Energy and Water around 5:00 PM and huge traffic in surrounding areas. He can still remember the tiniest details of that fateful day, and he can thoroughly describe what happened before the first explosion. At 5:55 PM, he heard fireworks and hopped in his coworker’s car toward warehouse number 12. Getting closer, he saw the fire and witnessed the first explosion. He tried to get back in the car to escape but the second explosion at 6:07 PM double-crossed him, and he thought he was a dead man.
Muhieddine passed out for a few seconds from the force of the explosion, and when he woke up, he started running erratically through the rubble, looking for a safe shelter. He saw people covered in blood, and he could feel a heat burning his face and blood coming out of his ears. The little time it took him to reach the company in Karantina felt like forever. He was questioned about his coworkers and all he could say was “they are gone.”
Muhieddine was evacuated to Wardiye Hospital and from there to Hotel Dieu Hospital, both of which were non-operational following the explosion. He was then transferred to Hammoud Hospital in Saida, and he couldn’t stop crying all the way from the horror he witnessed a little earlier. As a result of the explosion, Muhieddine sustained multiple burns that turned into eczema, in addition to severe hearing difficulties in his right ear, and a number of health issues including high blood pressure, anxiety, and extreme anger. He spent all of his savings on his medical bills and is still under treatment for the blast’s aftermath.
Muhieddine seeks the truth and nothing but the truth; he insists that those behind the explosion must be identified and held accountable for their crimes, because, until today, he is unable to overcome the trauma it has caused him, and he calls the government for a serious investigation.