A woman whose bridal video shoot was interrupted by the blast in Beirut recounted the experience on Thursday, saying she thought she was “going to die” when the explosion ripped through the city.
Dr. Israa Seblani, 29, was posing for her wedding video less than a mile from the blast site a few hours before the ceremony was supposed to take place.
Her videographer captured the moment the explosion, and its shockwave, blew through the group, in footage that gained widespread attention online.
“One thing came into my mind: Now you are going to die,” Seblani told The New York Times on Thursday.
Seblani, who lives in Detroit, Michigan, had been in Lebanon for three weeks to marry her husband, Ahmad Sbeih, who is Lebanese. Both Seblani and Sbeih were thrown by the blast, which left people in their immediate area injured and crying for help.
The wedding group fled into a nearby building and escaped serious injury.
“At the moment I was taking that picture, life was so normal,” Seblani said. “And in just a matter of seconds, the sky turned from blue to pink and there was heavy smoke in the sky.”
“At that moment, one thing I thought about — now I’m losing my life. I’m losing my husband. I’m going to be buried under a building,” she told CNN. “How am I going to die? Is it going to be fast, am I going to feel it?”
The bride whose wedding video captured the Beirut blast describes her experience: "At that moment, one thing I thought about, now, I’m losing my life. I’m losing my husband. I’m going to be buried under a building. Now I’m going to die,” Dr. Israa Seblani told CNN. pic.twitter.com/f1vEH98oOo
— CNN (@CNN) August 6, 2020
The couple had postponed their wedding for three years due to visa problems as Sbeih tried to enter the US. They decided to proceed with the wedding Tuesday night at home with family.
The wedding photographer, Mahmoud Nakib, told CNN that the group disregarded the first explosion, which preceded the second, much larger blast.
“We thought that it was far away. We continued filming normally,” he said. “In just one second, the sky turned black and we heard the second explosion.”
“I thought first of my wife and my daughter,” Nakib said. “I called her to let her know that I’m fine and do not go out. And I went live at Facebook to let people know what happened.”
The wedding shoot was one of several dramatic moments, captured on video, of daily life interrupted by the blast.
A priest was conducting a service on a livestream video at the city’s Paroisse Saint Maron Church when the building shook from the initial explosion and the lights went out. The larger blast then shattered windows, knocked over the camera and sent the priest scrambling for cover.
— Steven Nabil (@thestevennabil) August 4, 2020
The church later posted photos to its Facebook page of the damage wrought by the explosion.
In another widely viewed video, a husband was filming while his wife was in labor at Beirut’s St. George’s hospital when the blast struck.
The father, Edmond Khnaisser, described the moment in an interview with The BBC.
“I was looking around to check where’s my wife, because all the ceiling was down. I was afraid that she might be hit, or the baby was hit,” he said. “Everything was shattering around, the glass, the instruments, everything. Nothing was there.”
Edmond’s wife, Emmannuelle, gave birth to a boy named George, and both were doing well despite the explosion.
Other videos showed people driving when the explosion tore down the street in front of them, and adults attempting to protect children.
A father doing his absolute best to protect his son from the explosion in Beirut..
Pray for Lebanon ????pic.twitter.com/c1Sfm8zvTs
— 2020 Predictions (@2020concepts) August 4, 2020
— Sudhanshu (@shoee25) August 5, 2020
The explosion of a huge pile of ammonium nitrate in a warehouse killed at least 149 people, injured over 5,000 and destroyed a large swathe of the city, leaving up to 300,000 homeless.