After devastating Beirut explosion, trauma sinks in

Walking through the rubble of her neighbourhood last week, Sabine Salameh spotted a car crushed under the yellow sandstone blocks of an old heritage building.

The silver sedan was flattened, caked in dust and was clearly never going to function again.

“I thought, that’s exactly how I feel right now,” Salameh says.

She brought a spray can close to its dented bodywork and wrote “Mood” in black, capital letters. Later, the 27-year-old freelance writer found out that the car belonged to a friend – a testament, she agrees, to how small Beirut is and how inextricably-linked so many of its inhabitants are.

A ferocious explosion tore through the Lebanese capital on August 4, killing more than 170 people, wounding upwards of 6,000 and leaving some 300,000 homeless. It also rippled across the connections that criss-cross the city, shaking even those who were at no immediate risk from the blast wave itself.Some 10 days later, as the sound of glass being cleared recedes behind the clamour of hammers and the drills of reconstruction, many are struggling to see a way forward – the trauma of the explosion at the Beirut port has piled problems onto people already weary after a biblically-bad year.

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