The people of Beirut are more used than most to calamity and upheaval.
According to a New York Times report, when the first boom of two mammoth explosions that laid waste to the city's port was heard, locals who had lived through previous shocks in Lebanon ran away from their windows, to avoid the flying glass they knew was coming.
The journalist described people who helped her as having the "heartbreaking steadiness that comes from having lived through countless previous disasters".
Those events include a 15-year civil war, bombings, Israeli military bombardment and political assassinations.
But being familiar with disaster doesn't make it any easier to live through.
The port blast could not have come at a worst time. Like the rest of the world, Lebanon has been hammered by the health and economic impact of Covid-19. About one in three people are unemployed.
Yet its economy was already shattered, with hyper-inflation and currency devaluation. Food and medicine supplies came through the port.
Despite Beirut's past experiences, the city has been seen as a safer spot in the region. Information warfare analyst Molly McKew tweeted: "It's hard to understand the importance of Beirut as a kind of oasis. It has its own ups & downs & crises - but it was the place where diplomats, journos, NGOs covering Syria, Iraq could have their families & normalcy. The damage from this explosion will be far more than physical."
There has been an outpouring of sympathy following the port disaster. Regional neighbours Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Iran, the UAE and Qatar have offered medical and other aid after what appeared to be a tragic accident. More help has been offered from further afield.
Lebanon desperately needs support to recover from this disaster which killed at least 135 people, left 5000 injured and bodies under rubble. Many people have lost their homes. Hospitals were damaged. People staggered in the streets, torn and bloody. The wounded were ferried to hospitals on motorbikes. Volunteers helped clear the rubble.
Initial news reports suggested that a fire consumed a warehouse at the port and that set off the two big blasts. Lebanese Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi then said it appeared that stocks of ammonium nitrate had ignited. An orange cloud rose above the scene. Germany's geosciences centre GFZ said the blast-wave force was equal to a 3.5 magnitude earthquake.
CNN security expert Bob Baer said that video of the blast suggests that weapons were part of the material blown up.
Arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis said it may have started when munitions caught fire. He told the Washington Post that a white cloud seen on video is the pressure of the shock wave condensing the moisture in the air. He said signs of ignited ammonium spewed from the blast.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced an investigation and linked the explosions to 2700 tonnes of the dangerous chemical that had been confiscated from a ship and stored at the port since 2014.
The focus now is on why the dangerous goods were kept at the port for so long, with anger rising over the apparent mismanagement, incompetence and negligence. The head of customs had reportedly warned port officials of the danger.
After the apocalyptic scenes, residents and other countries will be pushing for reform and hoping Lebanon does not become another failed state.