Maguy Mahmoud was 16 years old.
She was killed in her school in the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood of Tripoli on Wednesday when the roof of her classroom caved in, also injuring another student.
The school's building dates back to the Ottoman era and is one of many dilapidated structures in the city. According to local residents, the building was used by the Syrian intelligence services from 1977 to 2005 before it was "renovated" into a public high school.
As Mahmoud and the injured student were transferred to the city's government hospital, the army cordoned off the area and prevented the media from accessing the premises. Many students gathered to share their grief, incredulous at the absurdity of the tragedy.
The accident was, unfortunately, predictable.
Naji Abderrahmane, a Jabal Mohsen resident and a parent of a student who attended the same school, told L'Orient-Le Jour that parents had raised concerns about the dilapidated state of the building, which prompted the city council to launch an inspection. The inspection committee detected danger within the structure and notified the education regional department, but nothing was done, Abderrahmane lamented.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a faculty member revealed that in order to enlarge one of the classrooms, the school management had knocked down a wall, probably load-bearing, separating two rooms, and replaced it with a simple stone archway. According to the same source, this same archway caused the tragedy.
The school's interim director, Najwa Chatoui, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. An investigation is currently underway, with the Attorney General requesting help from local engineers.
Caretaker Education Minister Abbas Halabi told L'Orient-Le Jour that classes in Tripoli will be suspended on Thursday to mourn the victims, adding that it is up to the judiciary to determine who is responsible for the incident.
In a statement following the tragedy, Tripoli MP Ashraf Rifi denounced authorities' lack of interest in the dilapidated state of more than 400 buildings in the city that are threatening partial or total collapse. He promised to continue his efforts to build new premises for the public school on an Islamic wakf land, a charitable endowment under Islamic law.
But Jabal Mohsen residents are angry. Many of them blocked the road leading to the neighborhood, demanding a census of old buildings and a sustainable development policy that protects the city's buildings and schools.
Tripoli, the capital of North Lebanon, is the poorest city in the country and has been hit hard by the economic crisis.