Dr Israa Seblani and Ahmad Sbeih were on the streets of Beirut on Tuesday, with Seblani posing for photos in a dramatic white wedding dress. It was a day like any other in Saifi village, she said, with people going out for shopping and dining in the restaurants.
Then suddenly there was a loud noise. A few seconds later, an eardrum explosion erupted behind her.
That horrific sound was the massive explosion that rocked the Lebanese capital, leaving at least 135 dead and 5,000 injured. Mahmoud Nakib, the couple’s wedding photographer, captured the moment it all happened.
“We were filming an outdoor photoshoot for (Seblani) and (Sbeih) and then we heard an explosion,” Nakib told CNN. “It was the first explosion, we thought it was far away, we continued to film normally. “
As the explosion went off, an intense gust of wind created by the blast’s shockwave roared across the square, the video showed.
“The area I was in – in seconds – went from a beautiful location to a ghost town filled with dust, broken glass and people screaming [and] bleeding, ”Seblani told CNN. It was like a nightmare scene. ”
The shock wave pushed Nakib down the street, he said, nearly knocking him over. But his camera kept rolling, documenting the chaotic scene for a few more seconds.
Seblani, Nakib and the rest of the wedding party walked inside as the explosion echoed through the streets of Beirut. Everyone at the wedding is doing well and no one has been hospitalized.
“First I thought of my wife and my daughter,” Nakib remembered as he ran. “I called her to let her know that I am fine and that I am not going out. And I went live on Facebook to let people know what happened. ”
The explosion in the Lebanese capital wiped out entire streets of the city, displaced hundreds of thousands of the city’s residents and damaged structures up to six kilometers away.
It has been linked to a warehouse storing thousands of tons of an unsafe, volatile chemical compound, although it is still unclear exactly what led to the ignition.