On 4 August 2020, Souha and her husband Jihad were at St. George Hospital in Achrafieh with their six-year-old daughter Gemma, who had been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in late June and was undergoing chemotherapy. To minimize the risk of infecting her with COVID-19, they had decided to stay with her throughout her two-week treatment while their son Karl stayed with his aunt.

In the afternoon, as they watched a Netflix series on their iPad, they heard an explosion. Souha left the room to see what had happened.

At 18:07, Souha re-enters the room and closes the door. She takes a few steps inside and sees the buildings facing her exploding before “the world erupted in my face”.  She blacks out. When she opens her eyes, she finds herself surrounded by destruction. Gemma is safe beside her. She hears Jihad moaning on the floor, covered in blood.

She screams for aid from the nurses. She phones her brother-in-law and asks him for help. Grabbing Jihad’s head to comfort him, she feels a fracture in his skull. She receives a phone call from her sister and shouts, “My life is ruined! My husband is on the floor bleeding!”

Souha’s brother Antoine arrives at the hospital. He finds her evacuating Jihad in a wheelchair with the help of a few employees. They get to the ground floor and then out into the street, where Antoine stops a car, places Jihad inside, and climbs in with him. The car takes off, and Souha waits with Gemma on the street for a driver working for a relative to take them to their home in Adma.

Jihad is taken to several hospitals before being admitted to Haroun Hospital in Zalka. Antoine phones Souha to update her. After she arrives home, her sister-in-law Nidal drives her and Gemma to a hospital in Byblos. Gemma needs to continue her treatment, and Souha needs medical aid. When they reach the hospital, Souha tries to call Antoine, but his phone is off.

Later that evening, Souha’s sister and friends arrived at the hospital. Nidal knelt on the ground in front of her. Souha asked, “Your brother is dead, right?” Nidal confirmed. He had died in Antoine’s arms in the car. At the hospital, the doctors tried to revive him, but it was too late.

Jihad, who worked in Nigeria, had not seen his family since Christmas because of COVID-19. On July 4, he managed to make it back to Lebanon to see them.

On August 4, the doctors had told Souha and Jihad that Gemma still had one more day of treatment. They were supposed to leave early in the morning the following day.

Jihad was buried in Miziara on August 6.

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

04 . 08 . 2020    18 : 08

04 . 08 . 2020 18 : 08