Beirut explosion: survivors recount moment of disaster | Lebanon News

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Beirut, Lebanon – Large parts of the Lebanese capital were torn apart by this week’s explosion which killed more than 150 people, injured more than 5,000 and changed the face of the city.

Al Jazeera spoke to survivors about when the disaster struck on Tuesday, August 4 at around 6 p.m. (3 p.m. GMT).

Toufic Nassar, 32, works in IT

Toufic Nassar, 32, works in information technology [Timour Azhari/Al Jazeera]

“I was sitting on the couch in my house with my dad when everything started to rumble. We had a few seconds, we all hit the bridge and then the windows blew up. It was like slow motion, everything was breaking, wine bottles were falling off the shelves, the whole building felt like there was an earthquake and everything exploded around us. We jumped into the neighbor’s house. She is an old lady and her oxygen bottles got stuck under the cupboards and we had to lift her. There was a gas cylinder in it which was something we had to close quickly. It’s an old building so there was a lot to do. Then I checked out my family and started cleaning.«

Mariam Noun, 22, project coordinator in an NGO

Mariam Noun Liban-Beyrouth-Timour Azhari

Mariam Noun, 22, project coordinator in a non-governmental organization [Timour Azhari/Al Jazeera]

“I was in a café in the Raouche district of Beirut with my friend when the ground shook beneath us. Then there was a huge gust of wind and a loud noise that pushed air into our ears. I thought Israel hit us, and the war came. I was by the sea and thought the ground would fall under me and end up in the water. People started running out of the cafe and we ran to the car to get home. The streets were full of traffic and glass. Beirut was broken, God help the people. My ears still feel under pressure. ”

Fahad Hasan, 21, dental student in Lebanon for summer vacation

Ahsan Homsi Liban-Beyrouth-Timour Azhari

Fahad Hasan, 21, dental student in Lebanon for summer vacation [Timour Azhari/Al Jazeera]

“I was watching television and at first there was a big sound, like a voice coming from everywhere. We felt everything shake with the massive voice. Then everything collapsed: the glass, the walls, the television. I hit the ground for 10 seconds and then I ran to the balcony to see what had happened. I saw a big red cloud. My parents let me go to the streets two hours later and I helped the injured and donated blood. ”

Hasan Homsi, 55, owner of a food cart

 Lebanon-Beirut-Timour Azhari

Hasan Homsi, 55, owner of a food cart[[[[Timour Azhari / Al Jazeera]

“I was at my sister’s in the Ras El Nabeh neighborhood, drinking coffee. We heard the explosion; the sound was crazy. The glass broke immediately and we saw the dead and injured on the ground. I walked through everyone. The Lebanese war so it was normal, I felt like I was back. The smell of blood is still in my clothes from helping the injured. I am so sad, so sorry for these poor people.«

Mira Berri, 23, sells accessories

Lebanon-Beirut-Timour Azhari

Mira Berri, 23, sells accessories[[[[Timour Azhari / Al Jazeera]

“I was walking on Gemmayzeh Street in Beirut, next to a pizzeria where one of the buildings collapsed. When we first heard the noise they were screaming that it was an explosion in a bank or something on fire. Then people shouted “Israel!” And then nothing. I remember a horrible feeling. I fell to the ground, my friend protected me and nothing happened to us. We are both ok. We have a house in Mar Mikhael and went to see if our friends were alive or dead. They weren’t there, but they turned out fine. ”

Ali Sheikh, 20, works at the family cafe

Lebanon-Beirut-Timour Azhari

Ali Sheikh, 20, works in a family cafe[[[[Timour Azhari / Al Jazeera]

“I was at the cafe with my father and my brother, but there was no one there because of the economic situation. There was an earthquake and we were like, “Alright, it’s an earthquake, it’s going to pass. Then all of a sudden the glass fell on us, the television flew and all of our cups broke. And my father was injured. I thought the explosion was right outside my coffee shop – we all did it, it was so powerful. We returned home to a house full of broken glass. ”

Imad Aoun, 52, works in construction

 Lebanon-Beirut-Timour Azhari

Imad Aoun, 52, works in construction [Timour Azhari/Al Jazeera]

“I had just returned to Sidon from Beirut, I showered, ate and sat down two or three minutes before the explosion and jumped out of my chair. I told my wife it was a dam from the sea. Then my daughter called and said there was an explosion in Beirut. I said to him, “Are you stupid? The explosion is in Sidon. ” Turns out I was the idiot and my daughter was right. My thoughts were paralyzed: “What’s going on? Is it possible an explosion in Beirut was heard in Sidon? It was a dark, gloomy night and as tragic as it gets. You are not sad for your house, but for our big house called Lebanon. ”

Miriam Shami, 27, dance teacher and fashion designer

 Lebanon-Beirut-Timour Azhari

Miriam Shami, 27, dance teacher and fashion designer [Timour Azhari/Al Jazeera]

“I had finished training and left Beirut with three friends. I told them to put on their masks as I thought there was a checkpoint to check the masks. Then we came to a traffic light just outside Beirut. We saw I was sending a vocal note to my friend Raymond, the first explosion hit and I said “Oh Mary! The second explosion knocked the phone out of my hand, I closed my ears and saw a car fly to the other side. I panicked and tried to continue driving because I thought we were bombed, but my brain recalibrated and I knew it was fire. Thank goodness I was fine, although emotionally… I already knew I didn’t want to live here and of course now I don’t have a single percent of hope left. ”

Elie Bakar, 24, unemployed mechanical engineering graduate

 Lebanon-Beirut-Timour Azhari

Elie Bakar, 24, unemployed mechanical engineering graduate[[[[Timour Azhari / Al Jazeera]

“I was at Coral Beach, hanging out and drinking like nothing had happened. Then, the explosion. It was like an earthquake, a shock; everyone was shocked. Lots of people were panicking because they knew people who work near the We packed our stuff, left and called anyone we needed on the way. Our parents went through things like this, but it is new to us. I lived in Abu Dhabi, where there is no bombing. So now we move forward as if nothing has happened, but deep down we are all touched by it. ”

Omar Nasr, 43, construction worker

Omar Nasr Liban-Beyrouth-Timour Azhari

Omar Nasr, 43, construction worker[[[[Timour Azhari / Al Jazeera]

“I was walking down the street in March Michael after filming the smoke coming out of the port, and 10 minutes later, there was the sound of a loud explosion. I flew 30 meters in the air, as if someone lifted me and dropped me 30 meters. The same pressure that lifted me up made me fall with a few cuts. When I tried to get up I saw projectiles hitting me, glass and rubble, so I hid in the middle of the street. The chaos was strange; people lying on the roads. I searched my close friend like crazy, under chairs and a table, then found him and healed him. I went through the war and nothing like this happened. It is something strange and horrible. ”

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