A Northlander who spent part of his life in Lebanon is backing the resilience of the Lebanese people to get their economy moving after a massive blast that killed more than 130 and injured 4000 others.
Max Badran, a Whangārei-based IT professional, has a sister and his father's side of his family living in the Lebanese capital of Beirut where the blast occurred this week but none have been directly affected.
A stockpile of 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been left sitting in a warehouse since it was confiscated from an impounded cargo ship in 2013 set off the blast, ripping through the capital city.
The explosion, powerful enough to be felt across the Eastern Mediterranean in Cyprus, killed more than 130 people, wounded thousands and blasted buildings for miles around.
Two days later, about 300,000 people — more than 12 per cent of Beirut's population — can't return to their homes, officials estimate.
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Badran said a number of volunteers helping with the cleanup and donation of items such as medical supplies would help going forward.
"People there are resilient. They've been through similar or worst but you hope for the best for them at this time," he said.
Badran has a Lebanese father and a Ukrainian mother and the place he lived as a child was a 30-minute walk from where the blast took place.
He was born in the former Soviet Union and apart from summer, which he spent in Ukraine, he lived in Beirut for the rest of the year.
He was at home in Whangārei when his sister informed him about the blast this week.
"I was shocked. I then contacted friends who said they were safe but they essentially locked their homes. A significant amount of storage of flour and grain reserves in the big structure silos have been ruined so it will have an impact on the economy.
"People were unaware ammonium nitrate had been stored there and at some point, it was supposed to be auctioned but that never happened. Materials had been stored there when they were not supposed to.
"Thankfully it's not much worse than it is and people are now able to go out and about," Badran said.
The civil war had finished at the time he lived in Beirut but he witnessed a war that erupted between Lebanese and Israeli security forces in 1996 when he was just 10.
"I remember there were a lot of refugees from the south of Lebanon arriving in Beirut, where the schools were closed to make room for refugees to stay," he recalled.
Badran also acknowledged first responders who lost their lives while fighting the flames at the port.
The disaster struck at a time when people's savings have melted away, and unemployment and poverty have mounted in the financial crisis.
Few have capacity to rebuild homes and businesses, and the government is scraping for dollars.
Damaged hospitals are still struggling to deal with the wounded. Dozens are still missing. Officials have estimated losses at $10 billion to $15 billion.