Beirut explosion eyewitnesses tell of 'complete devastation' caused by blast

4 August 2020, 20:40

Buildings are seen after a fire at a warehouse with explosives at the Port of Beirut led to massive blasts
Buildings are seen after a fire at a warehouse with explosives at the Port of Beirut led to massive blasts. Picture: Getty

By Megan White

Eyewitnesses in Beirut have told LBC of the “complete devastation” caused by a huge explosion, with windows blown out, walls cracked, and thousands of people injured.

Lebanese Health Minister Hassan Hamad said thousands have been injured in the blast, which took place in the Lebanese capital’s port.

Most of those hurt are said to have injuries from glass, some of which are deep injuries.

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The epicentre of the explosion appears to be in warehouses at the port - where it is reported chemicals were being stored.

Local resident Hadi Nasrallah said he was “in shock,” describing how he lost his hearing as the blast struck the city.

He told LBC he believes it could take “over ten years” for Beirut to recover from the devastation.

Mr Nasrallah said: “I saw the fire happening, I looked at it and essentially I was joking around with my friends like maybe the explosion is from the fire, and they said no, it’s a fireworks warehouse.

“So I finished what I was doing, I turned around – I think because there was a couple of minutes – and the explosion happened.

“The second it happened, I didn’t even hear it, so I told my friend I’d go back home.

“I turned back home and minutes later, I saw something flash and I lost my hearing, I couldn’t hear for seconds.

“I was absolutely terrified, because I thought I was the only one experiencing this – I tried to talk to my taxi driver and I couldn’t, and he turned around and I knew something was wrong when he looked at me, then suddenly the glass just shattered all over the car, all over the neighbourhood, the cars around us. There were people screaming and running.”

He continued: “I made sure the driver was okay and I went back home.

Smoke rises after a fire at a warehouse with explosives at the Port of Beirut
Smoke rises after a fire at a warehouse with explosives at the Port of Beirut. Picture: Getty

“My apartment is kilometres away from where the explosion happened, so when I went inside and saw the glass shattered and the walls cracked, I was in shock. The stores around my building, everything was destroyed.

“What are we facing right now? That happened right here, no one knew it was going to happen, and I looked up and I saw the smoke.

“I didn’t know what to think because it wasn’t black – it’s usually black if there’s a car bomb – it was pink and light and that made me feel even more scared because what are we facing right now? What is that explosion?

“I just feel sad for the victims and everything that happened.”

Beirut-based journalist Ewan Ward told LBC it was “absolute chaos” in the city, describing how “everything went flying” in his office.

He said he and his colleagues initially thought there had been an earthquake, before they exited the building to “complete devastation” in the street.

He said: “A huge explosion occured at around 6pm local time.

“At the Daily Star offices where I work, all the windows got smashed out, everything went flying.

“We escaped onto the street and it was chaos – there were plumes of red smoke in the sky.

“There’s been catastrophic damage to buildings all over downtown Beirut.

“Initial reports suggest ten people have died and hundreds were injured but obviously it’s still speculation at this stage.

“Hospitals are urgently calling for people to come and donate blood, it’s just absolute chaos on the ground right now.”

He continued: “We were in the office and I didn’t feel the shockwaves so much but suddenly the windows blew out.

“We initially thought it was an earthquake, because the building was shaking for around five seconds, and it was only when we got out into the street that we realised the scale of the damage.

“There was a huge plume of red smoke in the sky – complete devastation.

“The offices I work in are in downtown Beirut, near to the port, and I couldn’t see a single building which hadn’t had its windows smashed out.”

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