Beirut blast survivors say explosion is 'Hiroshima of the Middle East'

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Beiruti residents have described the horror of seeing glass flying towards them as an explosion ripped through the city creating extensive damage to its infrastructure and killing over 100 people.

The blast in the Lebanese capital has left over 4,000 injured. It was so powerful that it registered the force of at least a 3.3 magnitude earthquake with the detonation heard 200 miles away in Cyprus.

“It was just like what we’ve been taught in history books and classes when we were young about Hiroshima. It felt like an atomic bomb, there is not a single building in Beirut that is not damaged,” Hala El Labban, who was in the centre of Beirut when the blast occurred, told The National.

Over 110 people were killed after the blast blew windows in buildings across the Lebanese capital. It created a huge mushroom cloud as a shockwave ran through the city, flipping cars and damaging distant buildings.

Ms El Labban described the extensive damage the blast caused as she ran out on the streets with her injured friend.

“Beirut is destroyed, my city is destroyed,” she said.

She said people were screaming, the streets were crowded with people covered in blood running to get to hospitals, adding it was “catastrophic”.

“At that time people were running around hysterically on streets, they were trying to stay away from buildings as the shattered glass was falling, it was everywhere,” she said.

Moments before the blast occurred Ms El Labban was catching up with a friend. She looked up at a noise and within seconds saw glass coming towards them.

“I screamed and she screamed too. In a fraction of a second I picked up my handbag and covered my face with it until we heard the crashing of the glass everywhere, I saw blood on her neck, shoulders and arms, we ran to a basement away from the glass,” she said.

“I tried to put tissue paper on her wounds but blood was coming out like a fountain from her shoulders and arms,” she said, adding that they got into a car and rushed to the nearest hospital.

Rima Hassan, a 35 year old lawyer, was in her kitchen when the blast occurred.

“There are no words to describe what happened to us, it was horrific, something out of a horror movie,” she told The National.

“I ran inside and hid under the dining table with my two kids. We are safe and unharmed, but will never be able to forget those moments,” she said.

Destruction inside a church in the aftermath of the massive explosion. AFP

A man holds a damaged sculpture depicting Mary in his house near the site of Tuesday's blast in Beirut's port area. Reuters

A man removes broken glass scattered on the carpet of a mosque damaged in Tuesday's blast in Beirut. Reuters

A woman cleans debris from her damaged apartment a day after an explosion hit the seaport of Beirut. AP Photo

People clean debris at Mohammed Al Amin mosque in the centre of Beirut. AFP

People clean debris at Mohammed Al Amin mosque in the centre of Beirut. AFP

Karim Corbani, 45, poses for a portrait inside his bedroom in Beirut. Getty Images

Workers throw a broken window from a damaged apartment a day after an explosion hit the seaport of Beirut. AP Photo

A helicopter trying to put out the fire a day after the explosion rocked Beirut. EPA

Women clear the damage outside a sideroad kiosk in Beirut. AFP

People help clear rubble and debris from the driveway of a residential building in Beirut. Bloomberg

The damaged Wardieh hospital is pictured in the aftermath of the blast that tore through Lebanon's capital. AFP

A woman sits in front of a building, damaged by the explosion a day earlier. Getty Images

Lebanese inspect the damage in the aftermath of yesterday's blast that tore through Lebanon's capital. AFP

A woman looks out of the collapsed facade of an apartment. Getty Images

A woman looks down from a balcony. Getty Images

A man looks from the balcony of a building. Getty Images

A woman stands inside her damaged home. Reuters

“I don't have a single friend who hasn’t been harmed, we are safe but we are not ok,” Ms El Labban said.

Nearly 75 years ago the US unleashed the world’s first atomic bomb attack on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, followed three days later by the second and last on Nagasaki.

The bomb killed tens of thousands and flattened the Japanese city in an instant.

Ms El Labban said that Lebanon needs justice in order to send those responsible to trial.

“We will stand up again and the culture of life will prevail in this beloved city but this time what the Lebanese really want is justice,” she said.

Updated: August 5, 2020 09:39 PM

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