On August 4, 2020, Tania Daou-Alam was at a routine doctor’s appointment at St. George’s Hospital, which overlooks the Port of Beirut. She and her husband, Jean-Frederic Alam (she calls him Freddie) had a pact: They never went to the doctor’s office alone. Freddie was not particularly thrilled to accompany her that day, but she insisted. When they arrived at the appointment, he remarked “what a nice view,” Daou-Alam remembered.
They were finishing up around 6 p.m. when they heard a huge explosion. From the windows, they saw the smoke billowing from a hangar at the port. Then a second explosion happened. “All I saw was the glass windows coming towards me. I flew backwards,” Daou-Alam told The Dispatch. “There was this terrible, terrible noise of everything breaking.”
She was thrown across the room, away from Freddie. “I couldn’t see because I was bleeding from everywhere. My eyes, my head, my hands. I didn’t know where the blood was coming from.” She was knocked out for a few seconds, and when she could she called out to Freddie, but he did not respond. When she finally saw him, “his body was covered in huge, huge pieces of glass.” He was lying on his stomach, and when she tried to turn him over to clear his airway, “his throat was cut open from one side to the other.”
Freddie died instantly. Daou-Alam recounts that she heard a phone ringing and realized it was her husband’s. She had to reach underneath him to answer it; it was the couple’s two sons calling to check on their parents. The children were okay—they lived far enough from the blast that they heard it but were unharmed—but Daou-Alam told her boys that their father was not breathing.