Skip to content

She was already trying to help Lebanon. Then there was an explosion in Beirut.

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Karen Fayad had the next eight hours mapped out from her Boston apartment—studying for her Northeastern master’s in engineering and public policy, working her part-time research job, and helping a charity—when a friend texted her at 11:15 a.m. on August 4 about the catastrophe in Beirut. Hey there just has been a huge explosion in Lebanon read the message, followed by a screenshot in Arabic. Fayad phoned her mother, who lives 15 minutes by car from the 2,750 tons of volatile ammonium nitrate that had been stored for six years, inexplicably, at the Port of Beirut. “How did you know?” her mother said. The explosion was 10 minutes old. Her apartment in the mountain village of Roumieh was littered with broken glass and other destruction.

Though at least 11 of Fayad’s friends in Beirut have been left homeless, she is grateful that no relatives or friends are among the 171 people known to have died in the explosion, or the additional thousands who are missing. Friends have told her that the initial blast enabled people to seek cover before the larger second detonation, which came after 6 p.m. local time, when thousands of daytime workers had already left their jobs at the port. The explosion, which left a crater almost 50 yards deep and created tremors 150 miles away on the island of Cyprus, has fragmented the misery that Lebanon was already enduring. 

“There has been a famine, a huge economic crisis, and now the worst humanitarian disaster that has made over 300,000 people homeless,” says Fayad, a 2019 Northeastern graduate in industrial engineering. “This is why we are trying to raise money.”

Continue reading at News@Northeastern.

More Stories

The Pentagon is seen on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023, in Washington.

Homeland security expert details what would a government shutdown mean for US national defense

Taylor Swift reacts during the first half of a game between the Chicago Bears and the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on September 24, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Taylor Swift’s boost to voter registration (and to Travis Kelce)—are there any limits to her celebrity?

The Google sign is shown over an entrance to the company’s new building in New York on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023.

Google monopoly trial shows appetite for enforcement on Big Tech, antitrust experts say