On August 4, 2020, Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, was devastated by a huge blast.
Some 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, stored – somewhat inexplicably – in a harbourside warehouse with a cache of fireworks, caught fire and then exploded with the force of a magnitude 3.5 earthquake.
More than 200 people were killed, 6,500 were injured and homes, offices and public buildings were shattered across the city. The cost in damaged infrastructure alone was subsequently estimated at billions of dollars. And of course, the blast took place amidst a coronavirus pandemic that was already stretching the country’s hard-pressed medical services to breaking point.
A disaster on such a scale would knock any nation to its knees, but it could hardly have come at a worse time for Lebanon, which in recent years has been trapped in spiralling political and economic problems.
Understandably, many of its citizens believe those problems and the August 4 blast stem from the same underlying cause: the woefully ineffectual government and financial management provided by a ruling elite that is entrenched in power along sectarian lines, but which habitually spends more time squabbling about how to divide the spoils than it does on running the country.
So what are the consequences of this seemingly interminable crisis for the people of Lebanon and will the country be able to recover? We sent filmmaker Nada Issa to find out.