Trigger warning: This article contains descriptions and images some readers might find distressing.
A video of a bride having a photoshoot shows the heart-stopping moment the explosion in Beirut went off. On Tuesday (4 August), shortly after 6pm local time, a large blast exploded at the Port of Beirut, sending a wave of smoke, dust and debris sweeping across the city.
The known death toll is currently thought to be 137, with around 5,000 people injured and dozens still missing. "What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe," head of the Lebanese Red Cross, George Kettani, told the BBC. "There are victims and casualties everywhere."
Questions are still being asked about what caused the deadly explosion, but Lebanon's President, Michel Aoun, has put it down to the unsafe storage of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate in a warehouse in the port.
Videos have been shared extensively on social media, illustrating the devastation in the city; as many as 300,000 people are believed to have been made temporarily homeless. One particularly shocking video that's gone viral features a bride who was having her photographs taken at the time the blast went off. In the video, which is credited on Twitter to Mahmoud Nakib, the unnamed bride is seen in her long, white bridal gown and veil.
A bride taking wedding photos as the explosion happens in Beirut 👀...she’s ok— Icculus The Brave (@FirenzeMike) August 5, 2020
Via Mahmoud Nakib pic.twitter.com/7jVGKR7uYv
Initially, the bride is smiling as the camera pans all the way down her dress. But as the shot reaches the bottom, focussing on her bouquet on the floor, the blast can be both seen and heard. With the camera still rolling, the bride can no longer be seen on screen, but instead an empty street filled with smoke is visible.
As the cameraman heads back towards the square where they had previously been filming, the bride can be seen being ushered inside a building for safety. Damage and destruction is evident all around.
The video is so powerful it has racked up 2.3 million views so far on Twitter, and has stirred people from all over the world to comment and share it. One person described the footage as "almost like a movie," which is jarring when you remember that it is all completely real.
"The juxtaposition of these events.... just wow," commented a user on one post. Others have speculated on the high quality and smooth transition of the camera throughout the explosion, which some people have suggested may be because it was a drone being used to film.
While there is an investigation still to be done on the blast to determine its size and its cause, reports suggest the noise of the explosion was heard as far away as Cyprus, which is located 125 miles across the Mediterranean Sea.
Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the blast in Beirut.
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