Wed | Oct 28, 2020

‘It was like an atomic bomb’ - Aunt of Jamaican-Lebanese returns to shattered apartment, loses belongings

Published:Wednesday | August 5, 2020 | 12:00 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Relative of a Jamaican who was injured in the August 4 explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.
Relative of a Jamaican who was injured in the August 4 explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.


The blast that killed more than 70 people and injured 4,000 in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday was felt as far as the Republic of Cyprus and is being described as an “atomic bomb”.

Speaking with The Gleaner from Toronto, Canada, Tuesday evening, Lebanon-born Jamaican businessman Michael Issa said that his aunt’s apartment was badly damaged beyond recognition by the impact of the explosion, which looked more like an atomic bomb.

“My aunt is devastated. All her doors and windows were shattered from the percussion of the blast. It’s now unliveable,” Issa said.

His aunt lives approximately six kilometres from the blast and also lost most of her belongings. However, Issa said his aunt was fortunate that she wasn’t home when the blast occurred.

Reports out of Beirut are that the blast was caused by more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate left unsecured for six years in a warehouse.

“To put that in perspective, in 1995, the Oklahoma City bombers detonated about two tons of ammonium nitrate and destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah federal building, as well as damaging 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius, shattering glass in 258 nearby buildings and destroyed or burned 86 cars,” NBC said.

Another Lebanese who resides in Montego Bay said businesses owned by her family were destroyed, but none of her relatives was injured.

The country had just come out of lockdown owing to the coronavirus pandemic and citizens had just gone back to visiting cafés, restaurants, and smoking shisha, said Issa.