On 4 August 2020, Annie Vartivarian woke up early in the morning and felt an inexplicable heaviness in her heart. She planned to spend the day with her youngest daughter, Gaïa Fodoulian. They ran errands around the city and went home late in the afternoon to freshen up before going out again.

As Gaïa prepared to shower, they heard a loud explosion. They ran into the living room. Behind the buildings, thick smoke billowed.

At 18:07, Annie shouts to Gaïa to leave the room. Gaïa runs to the right toward the sitting room and Annie to the left toward the kitchen. Seconds later, another explosion shakes their apartment, shattering the big glass façade of the living room into small pieces. Annie emerges from the kitchen and sees smoke and destruction everywhere. She hears Gaïa, who is lying on the floor at the end of the corridor, moaning. Annie runs towards her, turns her over, and sees dark spots around her eyes.

Marianna, Annie’s oldest daughter, calls her mother. On the other side of the line, she hears Annie screaming Gaïa’s name. She tries to make her way on foot across the city through the rubble and destruction. She reaches the building and climbs the stairs to the tenth floor, where she finds Annie sitting on the floor beside Gaïa. A few men arrive, carry Gaïa down the stairs, and rush her to a nearby hospital. Annie follows. They first reach St. George Hospital. The scene is apocalyptic, with destruction and casualties everywhere. Outside the hospital’s entrance, they find an ambulance parked. They place Gaïa inside among other injured people, and the vehicle drives to a few hospitals before reaching Aboujaoudé Hospital in Jal el-Dib. Gaïa starts bleeding from her mouth and nose. The hospital staff admit her along with the other casualties.

Annie, Marianna, and their friend were not allowed into the hospital and had to wait outside. A while later, they managed to sneak inside and started searching for Gaïa. They split up and headed in different directions. Annie reached a metal door. She opened it and entered. In the corridor, Gaïa was lying on a stretcher, her face covered. Marianna and their friend stood beside her. She had died.

At 15:21, Gaïa had posted on Facebook a photo of herself running in a field in a red dress and with shades covering her eyes. She wrote the sentence “Everyone is the creator of one’s own faith” punctuated with a white heart.

Gaïa had traveled to Europe to study product design and specialized in Italian luxury products.

She was buried two days after the blast. She was 29 when she died.

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

04 . 08 . 2020    18 : 08

04 . 08 . 2020 18 : 08