Beirut explosion sweeps over bride’s photoshoot in dramatic video

Click to play video: 'Beirut explosion: Bride’s photoshoot interrupted by massive blast'
Beirut explosion: Bride’s photoshoot interrupted by massive blast
Eyewitness video shows a bride posing for photographs on her wedding day in Beirut on Tuesday, when the massive warehouse explosion occurred in the port of the city – Aug 5, 2020

A Lebanese bride just posed for a wedding video she’ll never forget.

Israa Seblani was showing off her wedding dress in a ritzy downtown Beirut square on Tuesday when a massive explosion rocked the city’s port, toppling buildings and covering the area in smoke.

Footage captured by Seblani’s wedding photographer, Mahmoud Nakib, shows the moment when the shock wave hit, turning a special moment into a mad scramble for all involved.

The clip starts with Seblani smiling and standing still while Nakib approaches her with a camera to show off her white bridal dress. He pans around her face, then brings the camera down to show off her train.

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Nakib realizes something is wrong a second before the blast sweeps over the entire scene.

“Allahu Akbar,” Nakib says. “God is the greatest.”

The camera is pointed at Seblani’s feet when the first shock wave hits, blowing away her bouquet and billowing her dress out behind her.

Bride Israa Seblani’s dress is blown out by an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon on Aug. 4, 2020. Mahmoud Nakib/Reuters

Smoke blankets the area and glass rains down on the street, tinkling onto the pavement amid the roar of the explosion.

The photographer turns the camera to look down the street toward a cloud of smoke, then rushes to a wall on the other side of the street.

Nakib then points the camera back toward the square, where the bride and several men in suits can be seen rushing into a nearby building for cover. Bells and alarms are going off in several nearby buildings.

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The square, which was bathed in golden light a few moments earlier, is now blanketed by grey dust.

Extended footage from the incident shows Nakib following the bride and groom down the street. The groom and another man can be seen helping Seblani with her dress, which appears to be in disarray after the blast.

The footage also shows trees and outdoor furniture scattered everywhere. Many windows appear to be broken and the hotel courtyard is littered with debris.

At one point the photographer turns the camera around to describe the scene.

“Look at me, I’m shaking,” Nakib 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.”

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The explosion happened Tuesday evening at Beirut’s port, where officials say a fire set off more than 2,700 tonnes of explosive ammonium nitrate at a warehouse. The blast killed more than 100 people, injured thousands more and obliterated nearby buildings.

Click to play video: 'Beirut explosion: Wedding couple revisits square where blast interrupted bridal photoshoot'
Beirut explosion: Wedding couple revisits square where blast interrupted bridal photoshoot

The explosion also damaged many structures within several kilometres of the blast zone, and was felt as far away as Cyprus, an island some 200 kilometres away.

The square where the photoshoot took place was approximately one kilometre southwest of the explosion’s origin point, Google Maps shows.

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Nakib says he and the couple were unharmed by the explosion. He told Storyful that they all took refuge at a nearby house and had dinner together at a restaurant later that evening.

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