On 4 August 2020, at 10:00 in the morning, Charbel Matta, a State Security sergeant at Beirut Port, called his aunt Samia and asked if she was upset with him. Surprised, she replied that she would never be. Charbel had been on duty since the previous day and would not finish and return home until the following day.

He was six years old when his mother died of cancer in 2003. His sister, Rafca, was ten. Samia took care of them as if they were her own, even after their father Abdo remarried.

At 18:07, a loud explosion shakes the town of Zouk Mikael. Abdo calls his family to check on them. A few minutes later, the news reports that the explosion was at the port. Samia, who lives in the same building as her brother and his family, calls Charbel several times in vain.

Abdo drives to Beirut with Samia. At around 19:00, they arrive near the port. They run from one gate to another looking for Charbel. His colleagues tell them he was evacuated from the port before the explosion because he had broken his arm when the fire started. However, nobody can confirm the hospital to which he was taken.

For hours, friends and relatives drive around Beirut and its suburbs looking for Charbel in all the hospitals. On the news, an anchor announces that Charbel Matta is alive at the American University Hospital. Abdo and Samia drive back there but cannot get any confirmation.

At dawn, they head back home to freshen up before continuing the search. At 5:45, a State Security officer calls Abdo; they have found Charbel at a hospital in Beirut. He is dead.

On August 5, Charbel was supposed to meet his father early in the morning to buy his first car. Instead, Abdo went to the morgue to look for his body. Two months later, Abdo bought the car Charbel had set his eyes on. He parked it near the building.

“August 4 is a tragedy that ruined our lives. I am living, I act like I am okay, but there are many things that I have stopped doing”, Abdo says.

Following his son’s death, Abdo stopped grilling meat at home. Grilled meat was supposed to be their meal the day before the blast, but they postponed it for Wednesday to celebrate the new car.

At the funeral, Charbel’s colleagues told his family that he was the reason they were still alive. He saved them before he was killed.

Charbel turned 24 five days before the explosion.

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

04 . 08 . 2020    18 : 08

04 . 08 . 2020 18 : 08