On 4 August 2020, early in the evening, Antoun Zaarour lay in bed watching TV while his wife Liliane went into the kitchen to wash some fruit at their apartment in Mdawar, near Beirut Port. A few minutes later, they heard a loud explosion. Liliane ran toward the entrance as Antoun rushed into the living room and stood at the window, trying to determine the source of the boom.

At 18:07, a second explosion shakes the building, throwing Liliane out of the apartment. She lands on the handrails of the staircase, unconscious. She wakes up, in pain, to the sound of her neighbors screaming and running down the stairs covered in blood; she follows them into the street. She turns around looking for Antoun, but he is nowhere in sight. She rushes back into the building, enters the apartment, and walks on debris, broken doors, and furniture while calling her husband’s name. In the living room, she finds him on the floor, covered in blood and eyes wide open.

Liliane phones her daughter Claire for help. An hour later Elie, Claire’s husband, arrives and drives both his in-laws to St. Joseph Hospital in Dawra, where Antoun is admitted into the intensive care unit with a fractured skull.

At the hospital that evening, Liliane and Elie saw horrific scenes. They decided to hide the reality of Antoun’s condition from Claire, who was waiting for them back home. She was eight months pregnant, and they worried that the news could affect her pregnancy.

A month passed before Elie finally allowed Claire to see her father. He was still in a coma in the intensive care unit. Before her due date, she visited her father three times. She played videos on her phone of her eldest daughter, who was Antoun’s biggest weakness, hoping to get a response from him.

At 3:00 on September 18, Claire went to hospital to deliver. At around 9:00, while her newborn daughter was being washed, she checked Facebook on her phone. She read a post: “Yesterday, we lost our neighbor Antoun Zaarour, who was severely wounded in the August 4 blast…”.

Antoun had died the previous day at around 18:30, hours before Claire delivered her second daughter.

For hours before Claire went to hospital, Liliane and Elie had acted normally, hiding their pain. They couldn’t tell her about her father’s death.

Claire did not make it to her father’s funeral, which was held the day after she delivered.

A minute of mourning for the victims of the Beirut Port explosion.

04 . 08 . 2020    18 : 08

04 . 08 . 2020 18 : 08