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Our Thoughts and Prayers are with Beirut

Our Thoughts and Prayers are with Beirut

(photo) Beirut, Lebanon
The Mohammad al-Amin mosque in Beirut as is reflected in a puddle in the street, after the explosion

Ken Gibson

NYC 2020

Today the world is reeling from an explosion that took place in Beirut. Just after it happened, President Trump offered sympathy and assistance to the people of Lebanon. 80 are dead and thousands are injured.

“Let me begin by sending America’s deepest sympathies to the people of Lebanon, where reports indicate that many, many people were killed, hundreds more were very badly wounded in a large explosion in Beirut,” Trump said at a press briefing Tuesday evening. ”Our prayers go out to all the victims and their families. The United States ready to assist Lebanon.”

Trump said the country has a “very good relationship with the people of Lebanon and we will be there to help.”

What looked so much like a terrorist attack was not. Igor Grechushkinof, the Russian owner of a ship transporting thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate from Georgia to Mozambique, had declared bankruptcy on an unscheduled stop years ago. And ever since the bomb was ticking slowly away, waiting to destroy so many lives with not warning.

Stupidity, not terrorism, was the root of this tragedy.

I reached out right away to the one person I know in Beirut, Bassam Chebaro, who published one of my books in 2003. 

Reaching out to people in Beirut was the first reaction, from Trump down to humble bloggers on New York political sites such as this, we all were shocked at hearing the echo of 9/11, at seeing the deja vu of that 2001 terror attack.

Then of course the security measures went into place. Security agencies from Lebanon to Israel, from London to New York were waiting for an explanation.

And then it came. The bankrupt shipper had abandoned what ought to have been used for our good, as fertilizer, and it had turned against us as an explosive.

Some relief came with it, but not much to the citizens of Lebanon who are faced with death and destruction, on top of hyper inflation and the Chinese virus threatening to show its face in the Middle East.

So today I pause from the more New York centric articles to offer along with Daby Carreras and the rest of the campaign staff our condolences. However this came about, it must not happen again. Measures against terrorism are needed, as well as the simple every day measures of following basic safety.

It makes me reflect on the firemen of this town, who were not only heroic in their work on 9/11, but are heroic every day in the actions that they take to keep our buildings safe. Little things that go unnoticed like keeping fire escapes free from clutter and making routine inspections. These actions save lives.

I believe that had this shipment been in a NY port, that both NYFD and other inspection teams would have forced compliance and prevented a tragedy. 

Daby and I appreciate their work, and are thankful that an accident like this is not taking place in our city. Daby will work hard to continue to support the NYFD and the city agencies that are heroic in their actions, saving our lives, every day.

And once again, we offer our support to Beirut where Bassam Chebaro was spared from any injury, and he will be able to continue to publish. 


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