Beirut port blast death toll rises after injured Lebanese women die nearly two years later

Beirut port blast death toll rises after injured Lebanese women die nearly two years later
3 min read
28 March, 2022
The Beirut port blast has claimed the lives of Rita Antoine Hardini and Julia Awdeh who both died on Saturday, according to media reports, after suffering injuries for almost two years since the August 2020 deadly explosion.
On 4 August 2020, a warehouse housing hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate exploded in Beirut port, killing over 250 and injuring 7,000 [Getty]

Two Lebanese women injured by the Beirut port blast of 2020 have succumbed to their wounds this week, raising the death toll to 255 victims 19 months after the deadly incident.

Rita Antoine Hardini, in her twenties, died late on Saturday, her family has said. She was seriously injured by the blast and was put on life support since 4 August 2020, the day of the blast.

Her funeral was held on Monday in France, according to local media reports.

Julia Saab Aoudeh also died on Saturday, the local LBCI news channel reported. She went into a one-month-long coma following the blast, after which she suffered medical conditions that lead to her death this week.

The association of the Families of the Martyrs, Wounded and Victims of the Beirut Port Explosion issued a statement following the latest deaths saying: "We renew our promise [to] all the martyrs and victims that nothing can deter us from moving forward [...] against all the criminals who caused these tragedies and aches."

On 4 August 2020, a warehouse housing hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate exploded in Beirut port, killing over 250 and injuring 7,000. Though the then-government promised to find those responsible within days, not one person has been charged in connection with the blast until now.

Earlier this month, a group of 120 victims of the Beirut port blast sent a letter to the UN Commissioner for Human Rights requesting a UN fact-finding mission to assist Lebanon's domestic investigation after it failed to make any progress.

The letter urged the UN commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to "dispatch investigators to prove human rights violations related to the Beirut Port Explosion".

It criticised the lack of results in the investigation as "another example of the corruption that prevails in Lebanon, which has brought the country to the precipice of collapse".

Rights groups have condemned the Lebanese government for its lack of action, and attempts to obstruct the port blast probe.

The Lebanese government has used a variety of legal manoeuvres, including the invocation of parliamentary immunity, to shield those responsible from accountability.

The judge initially tasked with investigating the port blast was removed after he called in officials for questioning.

His replacement, Judge Tarek Bitar, has had to halt his investigation multiple times due to legal obstruction by the officials he has called in for questioning.

Bitar has summoned prominent officials for questioning including former PM Hassan Diab, but almost all have failed to show.

Despite issuing an arrest warrant for one official, former Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Al-Khalil, Lebanon's police forces have so far declined to execute it.