Lebanon: Man injured in Beirut port blast dies, over a year on

The death of Ibrahim Harb, a 35-year-old accountant, brings the number of people killed by the blast to at least 215.

A drone image shows a general view of the site of the August 4, 2020 explosion in Beirut's port, after almost a year since the blast [Imad Creidi/Reuters]

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 has said.

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 neighbourhoods. He died at his parents’ home on Monday night, his brother, Mazen Harb, told The Associated Press news agency on Tuesday.

The death brings the number of people killed by the blast to at least 215, according to official records.

On August 4, 2020, hundreds of tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material used in fertilisers, ignited after a massive fire at the port. It later emerged that the chemical 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.

More than 6,000 people were injured in the incident, 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 centre 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 inquiry. 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.

Source: AP