On 4 August 2020, Christiane Khoury left her work at Beirut Port at 17:30. Her husband, Mohammad Tlaise, had just arrived at the port for his night shift. They both worked for the same company near Gate 14, where they had met in 2006 and fallen in love.

She drove to the nursery to pick up her two children and then headed to Sin el-Fil.

At 18:07, she arrives at her destination. A loud explosion shakes the area, shattering the windows of the nearby shops. Christiane hears people shouting and trying to guess the explosion’s location. She rushes back home to Achrafieh.

On the way, she begins receiving calls from relatives asking about Mohammad. They tell her that the explosion was at the port. Her children fall asleep in the back seat. She carries them into the apartment and calls her husband. His phone is off. She calls the landline at the office. A colleague answers and tells her that Mohammad is safe but cannot speak at the moment. The line disconnects. She is relieved to know that her husband is okay.

Hours later, she has still not heard from Mohammad. Relatives and friends start searching for him in all the hospitals. She sends her children to her parents’ home with a relative and joins in the search with her cousin.

On August 6, Mohammad’s brothers receive information that he is dead and his body is at the American University Hospital in Beirut. At the hospital, Christiane insists on seeing him. She is allowed to stand a few meters away, where she can only see the profile of his face. His brothers stand beside him and hug him.

The following day, while driving to Mohammad’s village in Bekaa to bury him, his uncle receives a call from the French Embassy in Beirut; the dead man with them is not Mohammad but a French citizen. The man on the phone urges him to return the body. The convoy stops. Everybody is confused. Christiane sees him up close for the first time and does not recognize anything he is wearing.

Mohammad’s brothers insist that the body is his. Christiane tries to convince them otherwise and that she has hope that Mohammad is still alive. They return the body and continue searching for him. The next day, the Internal Security Forces take DNA samples from Mohammad’s parents.

On August 14, the family hears about a body that has been at a hospital in Beirut since August 5. It has been wrapped in a black bag and out of the morgue freezer for days. The DNA matches. Kayan, Mohammad’s brother, is not convinced and asks for another test. The DNA matches again. Still not convinced, he decides to redo the test at a private laboratory.

At 11:00 on August 17, the family received the test results. The DNA matched for the third time. The funeral was held in the village that afternoon.

For the past three years, Christiane has insisted on seeing the photo of the body that Mohammad’s brothers saw. She wants to make sure that the one they buried was Mohammad. Even though they all confirm that it was, she is still unconvinced.

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

04 . 08 . 2020    18 : 08

04 . 08 . 2020 18 : 08