VIDEO: Lebanese take up brooms to clean up Beirut after deadly explosions - GulfToday

VIDEO: Lebanese take up brooms to clean up Beirut after deadly explosions


Labenese volunteers clean the streets, following Tuesday's blast in Beirut's port area. Reuters / AFP

In Beirut's beloved Mar Mikhail district, hundreds of young Lebanese took up brooms to sweep debris in the absence of a state-sponsored cleanup operation following deadly blasts.

Much of the cleanup was being handled by volunteers who improvised working groups, bringing their own equipment and making appeals for help on social media.

Since the explosions, people have crowded into the hardest hit districts to inspect their damaged homes and businesses, or as volunteers in cleanup efforts.

"What state?" scoffed 42-year-old Melissa Fadlallah, a volunteer cleaning up the hard-hit Mar Mikhail district of the Lebanese capital.

LebanonVolunteergirlsLebanese volunteers clear the rubble at the devastated Gemmayzeh neighbourhood. AFP

The explosion, which hit just a few hundred metres away at Beirut's port, blew all the windows and doors off Mar Mikhail's pubs, restaurants and apartment homes on Tuesday.

A spontaneous cleanup operation was underway there, a glimmer of youthful solidarity and hope after a devastating night.

LebanonVolunteers3Volunteers clean the streets following Tuesday's blast in Beirut. Reuters

Wearing plastic gloves and a mask, Fadlallah tossed a shard of glass as long as her arm at the door of the state electricity company's administrative building that looms over the district.

In small groups, they energetically swept up glass beneath blown-out buildings, dragging them into plastic bags.

Lebanoncleans1Volunteers clean the streets from the wreckage following Tuesday's blast in Beirut. Reuters

Others clambered up debris-strewn stairwells to offer their homes to residents who had spent the previous night in the open air.

"We're sending people into the damaged homes of the elderly and handicapped to help them find a home for tonight," said Husam Abu Nasr, a 30-year-old volunteer.

The blast killed more than 150 people, wounded thousands and compounded public anger that erupted in protests last year against a government seen as corrupt and inefficient.

LebanonVolunteers2Volunteers clean the streets following Tuesday's blast in Beirut. Reuters

A few civil defence workers could be seen examining building structures but they were vastly outnumbered by young volunteers flooding the streets to help.

Towns across the country have offered to host Beirut families with damaged homes and the Maronite Catholic patriarchate announced it would open its monasteries and religious schools to those needing shelter.

Food was quickly taken care of, too: plastic tables loaded with donated water bottles, sandwiches and snacks were set up within hours.

"I can't help by carrying things, so we brought food, water, chocolate and moral support," said Rita Ferzli, 26.

Business owners swiftly took to social media, posting offers to repair doors, paint damaged walls or replace shattered windows for free.

Abdo Amer, who owns window company Curtain Glass, said he was moved to make such an offer after narrowly surviving the blast.

"I had driven by the port just three minutes earlier," the 37-year-old said.


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