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'I have no more tears': Blast worsens crisis of Beirut residents

With little aid expected from bankrupt state, weary shop-owners say they do not know how they will recover.

Beirut, Lebanon - "I think I've just had enough," says Naila Saba as she stands among the debris of her eviscerated Beirut business.

"I felt the blast, I saw the news, and I was unable to be any more moved. I am exhausted. I have no more tears," said the 42 -year-old co-owner and chef at Aaliya's Books, a fixture of the city's historic Mar Mikhail neighbourhood.

Her thoughtfully arranged bar and bookstore was no more. The steel and glass-panel doors that made up its exterior had been ripped from their hinges in the massive explosion that tore through Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 137 people, injuring 5,000 and displacing up to 300,000.

Shards of glass shot through the bar's cosy interior like bullets, some embedding in the books that line its back wall. Tables and chairs lay upturned while shattered vases left pink and white flowers on the wooden floor, powdered in crystalline dust.

The large, red air conditioning vents were crushed or flayed open, hanging precariously from the ceiling. So strong was the blast that it peeled some of the navy blue tiles off the bar's walls.

The damage to Aliya's Books is mirrored across much of Beirut's Mar Mikhail and Gemmayze neighbourhoods, once lively areas of the capital, centred on a long street that cuts from downtown to the city's eastern edge.

The street is about 500 metres (550 yards) away from - and runs parallel to - Beirut port, the epicentre of Tuesday's blast.

For nearly a year, bars, restaurants, art galleries and stores in this neighbourhood struggled to make ends meet due to Lebanon's unprecedented economic crisis, which has seen its currency lose 80 percent of its value.

Then, a three-month lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus worsened their plight.


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