‘I have never seen a tragedy so huge’: 2 people in Beirut describe being caught up in the massive explosion that devastated the city

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Beirut was devastated by a huge explosion Tuesday, upending the lives of its millions of citizens.
Two Beirut residents caught up in the blast told Business Insider about their experience.
One was a woman who was driving near the center of the blast at Beirut’s port. She felt the explosion in her body before seeing or hearing it.
The other was a medical resident at a Beirut hospital which was overwhelmed with injuries. He worked through to 2 a.m.
“We saw so much pain in people’s eyes,” he said.

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BEIRUT — Like on any ordinary day, Rayane left her office in Beirut, Lebanon, at 6 p.m.

A few minutes after getting in her car, she felt numbness and pressure in her body. It was the first she knew of the explosion that devastated her city on Tuesday.

“I felt a pressure in my ears and my stomach,” she told Business Insider. She asked that only her first name be used.

“I then heard a large bang and my car jump from one side [of the lane] to the other.”

Rayane was a stone’s throw away from the Beirut port, where the blast took place. So far at least 100 have been killed and 4,000 wounded by the explosion.

The blast began with a smaller explosion, soon followed by the enormous blast which devastated much of the city.

Between the first explosion and the second, from her car Rayane saw workers running away, and decided to flee. “I knew something was up, and the first thing that immediately comes to mind is that it’s an explosion,” she said. “Cars around me started to honk and speed as well.”

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A former journalist, she was reminded of reporting on a twin suicide bomb attack in Beirut’s southern suburbs several years ago, where one bombing soon followed by another.

She took no chances, and left. “At that point my ears had popped and my fingers went numb — but I kept driving.”

“There were so many car accidents because of people speeding and panicking,” Rayane recalled.

Soon she got to the Zalka district where she lives, just north of the port.

Residential buildings, factories, and storefronts were damaged, with a blanket of glass shards on the streets.

“I turned around and saw the red plume of smoke,” she said. At first it seemed to her like the color was from the sunset over the Mediterranean

But preliminary findings from the Lebanese government said the explosion was caused by the explosive chemical ammonium nitrate, which produces a red color when it combusts.

Prior to the government’s announcement, the social media feeds and media reports across Lebanon were full of rumors: everything from internal bombing plots to targeted Israeli airstrikes.

And with Lebanon no stranger to conflict and civil strife, many thought the blast could be the start of a war.

“I thought it might be an explosion from a shipment or fuel [leak] or something,” Rayane said, who at that point was anxiously waiting outside her damaged apartment building, which she worried could collapse.

As she called family, friends, …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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