Flying roses: Drone fetes Lebanon mothers despite coronavirus

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Young men prepare roses to be delivered via drone to women on Mother's day, in Haret Sakher near the coastal city of Jounieh, north of the capital Beirut on March 21, 2020, as people remain indoors in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. (AFP/Joseph Eid)
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A woman on her balcony reaches out with her children to catch a rose, delivered to her via drone on Mother's day, in Okaibeh, north of the capital Beirut on March 21, 2020, as people remain indoors in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. (AFP/Joseph Eid)
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A woman on her balcony reaches out to catch a rose delivered to her via a drone on Mother's day, in the Lebanese coastal city of Jounieh, north of the capital Beirut on March 21, 2020, as people remain indoors in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. (AFP/Joseph Eid)
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A woman on her balcony reaches out to catch a rose delivered to her via a drone on Mother's day, in the Lebanese coastal city of Jounieh, north of the capital Beirut on March 21, 2020, as people remain indoors in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. (AFP/Joseph Eid)
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A drone flies toward a balcony with a rose attached to it, to be delivered to women on Mother's day, in Haret Sakher near the coastal city of Jounieh, north of the capital Beirut on March 21, 2020, as people remain indoors in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. (AFP/Joseph Eid)
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A drone flies toward a balcony with a rose attached to it, to be delivered to women on Mother's day, in Haret Sakher near the coastal city of Jounieh, north of the capital Beirut on March 21, 2020, as people remain indoors in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. (AFP/Joseph Eid)
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Young men prepare roses to be delivered via drone to women on Mother's day, in Haret Sakher near the coastal city of Jounieh, north of the capital Beirut on March 21, 2020, as people remain indoors in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. (AFP/Joseph Eid)
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Updated 23 March 2020

Flying roses: Drone fetes Lebanon mothers despite coronavirus

  • Three students have come up with a new service to celebrate the occasion without flouting social distancing restrictions
  • Lebanon has recorded 206 cases of the novel coronavirus so far, and counted four deaths

JOUNIEH: In a quiet Lebanese town under lockdown over the novel coronavirus, a drone buzzed toward a balcony on Saturday to deliver a red rose to a mother grinning in surprise.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have put a damper on Mother’s Day in Lebanon this year, but three students have come up with a new service to celebrate the occasion without flouting social distancing restrictions.
Down in the street in the coastal town of Jounieh, 18-year-old Christopher Ibrahim texts a teenager who has ordered a flower drop-off for his mother, asking him to bring the family onto the balcony.
He slips a single rose in a ring hanging under the aircraft and it lifts off into the air to carry the flower to its intended recipient.
“It’s Mother’s Day and everything’s closed,” said the engineering student, wearing a light blue face mask.
For almost a week, most Lebanese have been ordered to remain at home to stem the spread of COVID-19. The airport has closed and all non-essential businesses have been told to shutter.
Lebanon has recorded 206 cases of the novel coronavirus so far, and counted four deaths.

“I wanted to think of something that would enable people make their mothers happy in the safest way — without there being contact with anyone,” Ibrahim said.
Ibrahim, who has filmed weddings using a drone and also volunteers for the Lebanese Red Cross, decided on the idea of an airborne rose.
“I thought if it was delivered by drone, there would be zero contact,” he said.
But beyond cheering up mothers in lockdown, Ibrahim says the unconventional flower delivery service also aims to support medical workers battling the pandemic.
“Everything we make from this project will go to the Red Cross,” he said. Each rose delivery costs between 10,000 and 20,000 Lebanese pounds ($6.60-$13 according to the official exchange rate) depending on the location.
Lebanese officials fear an increase in COVID-19 cases would overwhelm local hospitals, in a country already reeling from an economic crisis and mass anti-government protests.
Lebanon has been largely quiet in recent days, although food stores have remained open and there have been some vehicles in the streets.
Ministers and lawmakers have called for a full curfew, and Prime Minister Hassan Diab was expected to speak on Saturday evening.
An estimated 900 million people are now confined to their homes in 35 countries around the world — two thirds by government lockdown orders, according to an AFP tally.


TWITTER POLL: Almost 3 of 4 readers think there is more to the massive blast in Beirut

Updated 07 August 2020

TWITTER POLL: Almost 3 of 4 readers think there is more to the massive blast in Beirut

  • Impact of the blast was also reportedly felt 200 kilometers away in Cyprus
  • Mushroom clouds and spherical blast waves are conflated as nuclear in nature

DUBAI: Almost three of four readers think there is more to the massive explosions that hit a Beirut port on Tuesday, according to an Arab News straw poll on Twitter.

The blast, caused by a stockpile ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse, generated a shock wave so devastating that it levelled buildings near the port and caused extensive damage over much of the rest of the capital, killing more than 100 people and injuring thousands.

The impact of the blast was also reportedly felt 200 kilometers away in Cyprus.

Specifically, 73 percent of more than 1,000 readers who responded to the poll do not believe the explosion was an accident compared to about 27 percent who thought it was back luck that the ammonium nitrate – unsafely stored for six years – has been the cause of the deadly Beirut blast.

The enormous explosion consequently created a mushroom cloud over Beirut, stoking fears and rumors on social media and, among conspiracy theorists, that a nuclear bomb has been detonated in the Lebanese capital due to the sheer magnitude of the blast.

About 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate was involved during Tuesday’s explosion. Ammonium nitrate is a crystal-like white solid commonly used as a source of nitrogen for agricultural fertilizer, and is relatively safe when stored properly. It, however, becomes deadly as an explosive when mixed with other chemicals and fuel oils.

Some experts pointed out that people who are not accustomed to seeing large explosions may confuse mushroom clouds and spherical blast waves as nuclear in nature.

Others believed the Beirut explosion lacked two hallmarks of a nuclear detonation: a ‘blinding white flash’ and a thermal pulse, or surge of heat, which would otherwise had started fires all over the area and severely burned people’s skin.