06 August 2020 18:35
A video of a bridal shoot that took place at the exact moment of Tuesday's explosion, which devastated Beirut has gone viral on social media. The film from videographer Mahmoud Nakib illustrates the impact of the blast in the Lebanese capital when everyday life came to a shuddering halt. A young woman is seen in the images smiling in her white wedding dress as she poses for the professional shoot in a city square on the day of her nuptials. Suddenly the roaring sound of the blast is heard as it tore through the streets surrounding the port. Mahmoud carried on filming in the aftermath of the blast, and shortly afterwards the couple can be seen walking safely down a street.
Israa Seblani was showing off her wedding dress in a ritzy downtown Beirut square on Tuesday when a massive explosion rocked the city's port, toppling buildings and covering the area in smoke. Read more: BBC Zoom video shows terrifying moment when Beirut blast hit Footage captured by Seblani's wedding photographer, Mahmoud Nakib, shows the moment when the shock wave hit, turning a special moment into a mad scramble for all involved. Bride Israa Seblani's dress is blown out by an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon on Aug. 4, 2020. Nakib then points the camera back toward the square, where the bride and several men in suits can be seen rushing into a nearby building for cover. The explosion happened Tuesday evening at Beirut's port, where officials say a fire set off more than 2,700 tonnes of explosive ammonium nitrate at a warehouse.
The thing that really strikes me is how enormously stupid it was, what criminal negligence it took to leave this highly explosive material right in the very heart of this city, within yards of people, their homes, their businesses. The ammonium nitrate - which is used as a fertiliser and as an explosive - had been in a warehouse in the port for six years after it was unloaded from a ship impounded in 2013. Port General Manager Hassan Koraytem told OTV they had been aware that the material was dangerous when a court first ordered it stored in the warehouse, "but not to this degree". House arrest would apply for all port officials "who have handled the affairs of storing [the] ammonium nitrate, guarding it and handling its paperwork" since June 2014, said Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad. The ammonium nitrate arrived on a Moldovan-flagged ship, the Rhosus, which entered Beirut port after suffering technical problems during its voyage from Georgia to Mozambique, according to Shiparrested.com, which deals with shipping-related legal cases.
As Dr. Seblani, 29, posed for her wedding video, an explosion tore through the city — leaving more than 135 dead, thousands injured and dozens more missing — devastating much of central Beirut and blowing windows from their frames for miles. Rescue workers in Lebanon have been digging through the rubble looking for survivors of a devastating explosion in Beirut on Tuesday that killed at least 137 people and injured about 5,000 others. In videos posted on social media white smoke could be seen billowing from Warehouse 12, next to the port's huge grain silos. Shortly after 18:00 (15:00 GMT), the roof of the warehouse caught alight and there was a large initial explosion, followed by a series of smaller blasts that some witnesses said sounded like fireworks going off. That blastwave levelled buildings near the port and caused extensive damage over much of the rest of the capital, which is home to two million people. Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud said as many as 300,000 people had been made temporarily homeless and that collective losses might reach $10-15bn (£8-11bn). The warehouse where the initial fire and explosions were observed was completely obliterated and an adjacent grain silo was heavily damaged. The explosion's shockwave blew out windows at Beirut International Airport's passenger terminal, about 9km (5 miles) away from the port. Lebanon's President, Michel Aoun, blamed the detonation on 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that he said had been stored unsafely at a warehouse in the port. Image copyright EPA Image caption There is now a huge crater where the warehouse storing the ammonium nitrate once stood Image copyright Reuters Image caption Residential buildings near the port were severely damaged by the explosion A fire appears to have triggered the explosion of the ammonium nitrate in Beirut. The port's general manager, Hassan Koraytem, confirmed that maintenance was conducted on the door of the warehouse before the explosion. The 137 people who were killed included Jean-Marc Bonfils, a Beirut-born French architect. Mr Bonfils, who was involved in restoring buildings damaged in the city during the civil war, was broadcasting video of the incident live on Facebook after the first explosion but was injured in the second and later died. The Lebanon-based cruise ship agency Abou Merhi said two people died and seven were injured when its Orient Queen ship was severely damaged by the blast. "We are determined to go ahead with an investigation and unveil the circumstances surrounding what happened as soon as possible and hold those responsible and those who were negligent accountable and serve them the most severe punishment," he said on Wednesday after visiting the ruined port. Mr Koraytem and the director general of Lebanese Customs, Badri Daher, said their warnings about the danger posed by the stored ammonium nitrate and calls for it to be removed were repeatedly ignored. The government has ordered officials at the port who oversaw the storage of the ammonium nitrate to be put under house arrest pending the completion of the investigation.