ALL NEWS

Volunteers step in to help clean up devastation in Beirut

Aug 12, 2020, 11:08 AM
beirut clean up...
Lebanese soldiers search for survivors after a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. The explosion flattened much of a port and damaged buildings across Beirut, sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky. In addition to those who died, more than 3,000 other people were injured, with bodies buried in the rubble, officials said.(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

BEIRUT — Volunteers from across the country of Lebanon have shown up en masse to help clean up after a massive explosion last week in Beirut. 

With more than 300,000 people left homeless by the Aug. 4 blast and the Prime Minister Hassan Diab announcing his government would step down, the locals turned to each other.

“Ever since this explosion happened, we looked around us and we realized that we, the Lebanese civilians, us hand in hands, we are the government,” Nour El Achi, a volunteer and organizer with the local activist group Minteshreen told Business Insider. “Not a single public administration took to the streets in order to help these people. Not a single public establishment actually tries to clean the roads to clean up this tragedy, this catastrophe.”

Current reports estimate 171 people died after 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded in a port warehouse. The substances had been stored there for nearly six years after a cargo ship docked for “technical difficulties.” The ship’s captain later told Reuters the ship was left after a legal dispute over port fees.

Frustrations building

In the week since the blast, people have protested around the blast site, voicing their frustrations with their government.

Currently, Business Insider reports that nearly half of Lebanon’s population is living below the poverty line; the country reports 33% unemployment. This, they say, is due to years of government corruption and mismanagement that led to massive inflation of the Lebanese pound.

“We have to come together, the government has done absolutely nothing, not even the municipality. It’s always up to us to rebuild our city when they destroy it like this,” Afif Ayad, the founder of “My People, My Responsibility,” a nongovernmental organization, told NBC.

“We live in a parallel world at the moment and have zero trust in anything the government does. We don’t need them and we don’t care,” Ayad said. “We decide what we want. We feed each other and we fight side-by-side together against them. It’s our city to get back on track, not theirs.”

Volunteer clean up efforts in Beirut

NBC reports that volunteers have become more sophisticated in their clean up efforts, breaking the city into smaller sections where searchers, architects and structural engineers can systematically check homes for damage.

They say the volunteers have also hired out heavy machinery to move piles of rubble and debris. Volunteers even used Google Maps to track piles of recyclables. Later, others come back and turn the shattered glass into usable glass.

Often, as the Washington Post reports, people would return home to Beirut to find clean up had already happened. 

“Every time I would come back to my apartment, which is obviously relatively destroyed, it would still end up being cleaner and cleaner,” a man named Adam told them.

“This city has been destroyed 100 times, and each time we rebuild it — but it doesn’t ever get rebuilt by the government. It’s always rebuilt because of the people,” Ayad said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Exterior rendering of the Helena Montana Temple. Photo credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter...
Mark Jones

Open house dates for Helena Montana Temple announced

The Helena Montana Temple will be dedicated on Sunday, June 18, The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Monday.
23 hours ago
Police siren pictured, eagle mountain police in a standoff right now...
Mark Jones

Boy injured after falling from slide at Rose Springs Elementary School

The Tooele County Sheriff's Office says an 8-year-old boy is in critical but stable condition after falling off a slide at school Monday morning.
23 hours ago
Salt Lake City Police arrested a 31-year-old man Monday morning after he allegedly threatened anoth...
Mark Jones

Salt Lake City police arrest man after road rage incident, involving a gun

A 31-year-old man was arrested early Monday morning following a road rage incident. Police say the suspect allegedly threatened another person with a gun.
23 hours ago
The Utah House has advanced the bill that bans transgender-related surgeries on minors and pauses t...
Aimee Cobabe

Equality Utah supports bill clarifying rules for therapists when it comes to conversion therapy for minors

Equality Utah is supporting a bill adjusting rules for therapists when it comes to conversion therapy for minors.
23 hours ago
Water flows through Mill Creek as snow blankets Millcreek Canyon on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023. Utah has...
Hugo Rikard-Bell

Utah hasn’t had this much snowfall since 2011, according to NWS

The National Weather Service says Utah hasn't seen this kind of snowfall since 2011. The state is currently at 167% of median for Utah.
23 hours ago
Tens of thousands of dead birds are washing up on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. Wildlife exper...
Aimee Cobabe

Thousands of dead birds are washing ashore at the Great Salt Lake

Tens of thousands of dead birds are washing up on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. Wildlife experts say it's all very normal.
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Volunteers step in to help clean up devastation in Beirut