On 4 August 2020, late in the afternoon, Syrian citizen Samer Tibati was at work at the tire shop opposite Gate 3 of Beirut Port. His wife Fidaa and their two children, seven-year-old Bissan and two-year-old Hassan, were in their small apartment above the shop waiting for him to finish. Samer was fixing the tire of a customer’s car when he heard a loud explosion nearby.

At 18:07, seconds later, another explosion shakes the area. Samer finds himself on the ground amidst complete chaos. He hears his wife screaming in the apartment above. He rushes out of the shop and manages to enter his destroyed apartment. On the floor, Bissan lies unconscious.

Samer lifts Bissan and rushes out into the street in search of an ambulance. He stands amidst the destruction, trying to stop a car. After a few minutes, he spots a man on a moped. Samer asks the man for help. He rides on the back seat, holding his daughter in his arms. Bissan bites his shoulder and tells him, “Baba, Baba, help me”.

They try several hospitals before Bissan is admitted to Clemenceau Medical Center in Hamra. Her condition is critical, and she needs to stay under surveillance for a few days. Fragments of a hard surface had hit her lungs.

After sending his wife and infant son to the mountains to stay with relatives, Samer spent days and nights in the hospital at Bissan’s side. A week later, before noon, Samer left Bissan’s room for a cigarette. Minutes later, a nurse followed; the doctor was looking for him. Outside Bissan’s room, a medic awaited him with awful news; Bissan had passed away.  

Early every Sunday morning for over a year, Samer visited Bissan with his family. They cleaned her grave and brought her flowers. He had wanted to bury Bissan in Syria so that he could be beside her when he returned home one day with his family, but doing so would have been too expensive and unsafe. Instead, he looked for a space to bury her in Lebanon. He asked in several graveyards, but they did not accept Syrians. Finally, he found a small plot for her at a graveyard in Beirut.

In September 2021, Samer rushed Fidaa to hospital. Hours later, she delivered a baby girl, who they named “Bissan” after her sister.

Two months later, the Tibati family were granted asylum in France, where they remain today. Before leaving Beirut, Samer asked his friends to visit Bissan whenever they have time.

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

04 . 08 . 2020    18 : 08

04 . 08 . 2020 18 : 08