At one of the entrances to the port of Beirut, a twenty-year-old woman runs screaming her brother’s name. His name is Jad and he has green eyes, she says, dazed. The security forces prohibit him from passing.
A few meters away, another desperate woman searches for her brother after the powerful explosions in the port of the Lebanese capital that caused at least 73 deaths and 3,700 injuries, causing unprecedented destruction in the city and traumatizing the inhabitants.
For more than three hours the bustle of the ambulances does not stop, with the sirens hooting. They enter the disaster area and leave loaded with victims.
At the epicenter of the explosion, the outlook is apocalyptic: the containers look like twisted tin cans, the contents have been dumped on the ground. Flames and clouds of black smoke rise to the sky. Army helicopters try to extinguish them with the water collected in the sea. In vain.
Fire devours a ship moored in front of the port. On the dock, security guards fear fuel tanks may explode.
Three hours after the catastrophe, a body lies on the ground. Next to it is an intact suitcase.
The floor is full of suitcases, glasses, shoes, but also folders and papers from nearby offices, which were blown up by the explosion.
A few dozen meters away you can see rows of imported cars, all of them damaged by the explosion, which has made them out of control: headlights flash and alarms accompany the wail of sirens.
– Broken bodies –
Some puzzled firefighters are looking for colleagues who were trying to put out a raging fire just before the massive explosion, according to one of them.
First responders, with the help of security officers, search for survivors or dead trapped under the rubble.
One of them yells at journalists: “What are you recording? There are bodies smashed everywhere!”
Nearby, security guards carry the body of a comrade. One of them starts crying. Another takes out the phone to show the photo of the deceased. “Here you go, on your wedding day.”
Among the wounded are Syrian and Egyptian members of the crew of ships that arrived at the port on Tuesday, including one from Ukraine transporting wheat to Syria.
“We have been waiting for the moment of our return to Syria for six months. We are 13 young people. Seven of us were injured,” says one of them.
Another mentions a crack in the shell of the ship, the “Mero Star”. “The ship is sinking, with the explosion there have been serious injuries on board.”
In all neighborhoods of the capital, even in the suburbs, . correspondents have seen destruction caused by the explosions that shook the city and unleashed panic on the terraces of coffee shops.
In buildings, residents inspect for damage. The window panes exploded, the shop windows, too, scattering a glass carpet on the sidewalks. Several city hospitals cannot cope with the arriving wounded.