Moment explosion hits bride’s photo shoot



A bride from Beirut will remember her wedding video for all the wrong reasons after the city's terrifying explosion sparked utter chaos in the middle of her photo shoot on Tuesday.

One moment Israa Seblani, 29, was smiling in her wedding dress in a ritzy downtown square. Wedding photographer, Mahmoud Nakib slowly pans around her face, then brings the camera down to show off the train of her gown.

Israa Seblani, 29, was shooting her wedding video when the blast hit. Picture: Mahmoud Nakib
Israa Seblani, 29, was shooting her wedding video when the blast hit. Picture: Mahmoud Nakib

But at that moment flowers can be seen being ripped from the ground and her dress billows out as the impact of the explosion sweeps through the square.

Mr Nakib then turns the camera around to show residents running for their lives.

"Allahu Akbar," Mr Nakib can be heard saying in prayer. "God is the greatest."

Smoke can be seen filling the square and glass can be heard raining down.

The footage shows trees and outdoor furniture scattered around, as nearby windows are broken and a dark dust fills the air.

Residents can be seen running for cover as the blast hits.
Residents can be seen running for cover as the blast hits.

At one point the photographer turns the camera on himself.

"Look at me, I'm shaking," he says in Arabic. "There was a really, really big explosion. All the storefronts have been smashed. Some people have been injured, but thank God we are fine. Everything is broken."

Returning to the scene a day after the explosion, Ms Seblani told Reuters: "I have been preparing for my big day for two weeks and I was so happy like all other girls. 'I am getting married.' My parents are going to be happy seeing me in a white dress; I will be looking like a princess.

"What happened during the explosion here - there is no word to explain … I was shocked, I was wondering what happened, am I going to die? How am I going to die?"

The blast centred on the city's port caused massive destruction and killed at least 113 people, heaping misery on a country already in crisis.

A frantic search for survivors of the blast was under way overnight, with footage of one man emerging from the rubble after 10 hours shared online.

Video posted on Twitter showed a woman playing a piano in the rubble of her apartment, while another showed a woman shielding young children as they watched the blast roll towards them, blowing out the windows of their apartment.




The blast was apparently triggered by a fire igniting 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser left unsecured in a warehouse of Beirut port. It was heard as far away as the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, some 240km away.

Dozens are still missing, with thousands of people left destitute and thousands more cramming into overwhelmed hospitals for treatment.

One doctor, his own head bandaged like those of his patients, described the scene as "Armageddon".


"Wounded people bleeding out in the middle of the street, others lying on the ground in the hospital courtyard," Dr Antoine Qurban told AFP outside Hotel Dieu Hospital in central Beirut.

As volunteers led the clean-up, public outrage has grown over how such a large volume of highly combustible material - sometimes used for homemade bombs - had been stored next to a densely populated area for at least six years.

The government vowed to investigate and urged the military to place those responsible for storing the substance under house arrest.


Originally published as Moment explosion hits bride's photo shoot