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French Version

Sad al-Bouchrieh takes its turn recovering from bomb

Residents and storeowners in Sad al-Bouchrieh appeared numb on Tuesday as they began the increasingly familiar routine of clearing away debris as quickly as possible in order to resume their normal lives after Monday night's bomb blast.

The bomb, the fourth in Beirut since May 20, exploded near the Abdel Massih Center next to Mar Takla Church, wounding 13 and causing severe damage to dozens of businesses in the Christian neighborhood.

Military Prosecutor Jean Fahd filed charges on Tuesday against the unknown perpetrators of the explosion, adding that a guilty verdict could lead to a death sentence. He reassigned the case to Military Investigative Magistrate Rasheed Mezher. Judicial reports said no one has been arrested in connection with the explosion.

Dozens of residents, business owners, families and friends picked up brooms and other tools in an effort to clean up and open shop again. Only the shell of the bus - behind which the bomb had been placed - remained at the site. The rest of the vehicle has been swept away, along with smashed cars and other debris from the commercial center. Every window in the six-story center was shattered.

"Everybody rushed to help as soon as it was clear to come through," said Carlos Mbarak, whose sister owns a beauty parlor in the row of shops on the ground floor of the Abdel Massih Center. "There is nothing else to do but that.

"This is not the first time [an explosion] happened here, and it is not the first time it has happened in Lebanon, so the only thing we can do is continue with our normal lives," he said.

Nonetheless, he added, "we are just fed up with it all."

Mbarak said $10,000 worth of damage was suffered by the Contrast Beauty Store, which will take approximately 10 days to restock and repair.

"Everything was broken: the machines, the products, all the mirrors and glass," he said. "We thank God [my sister] is OK - we can restore everything, but we cannot restore life."

Next door stands Optic Nacouzi, where Gilbert Nacouzi and his mother were clearing away countless shards of ruined eyewear, mixed in with the broken glass from the windows and counters. His entire business was lying at his feet. The floor above him was his office, and the floor below was the laboratory and warehouse. All three were badly affected by the blast.

"In total, it is probably going to cost $150,000 to repair and restock," he said. "I'm not feeling anything now. I'm just trying to work as quickly as possible to get everything fixed so I can receive customers again."

Nacouzi was in his store when the explosion occurred.

"I was at the back of the shop. I suddenly felt this big pressure and everything came crashing down. Dust and debris and glass were flying around," he told The Daily Star.

His mother, Lauren Nacouzi, was pessimistic about the situation in the country, saying its troubles never seem to recede for very long.

"We've been seeing the same thing here for 30 years," she said. "It is happening all over [Lebanon]. My generation has seen this, our children are seeing this, and soon our grandchildren will be seeing this too. Nothing has changed, but we keep hoping."

Further down the row of shops is the Etablissement Robert Isber, a children's clothing store. "To be honest, I just feel numb - I can't feel anything else," said owner Robert Isber. "It's the first time I'm feeling nothing."

Like Nacouzi, he worked at a fast pace, with the help of his family and employees, to get the store up and running again as soon as possible.

"There is nothing we can do to stop bombs - not even security," Isber said. "Security can prevent theft, but it can't prevent bombs."

Tony Abu Dib, proprietor of the Whiteness clothing shop, assessed his damage at approximately $50,000,, most of it in ruined merchandise.

"Everything we have is silk, which is expensive to replace - and most of it has been destroyed," he explained.

The same feeling of emptiness emanated from Abu Dib, who shrugged his shoulders at the situation and said: "Life continues, nothing stops."

Beirut 06-06-2007
The Daily Star

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