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Beirut explosion: Footage shows how blaze sparked blast

A couple who believed they were filming a terrible accident in the Port of Beirut have captured the moment they were sent flying after an explosion the size of a small nuke ripped apart their nearby apartment. 

The terrifying footage is believed to be the closest taken during the devastating blast in the Lebanese capital which killed more than 145 people, wounded thousands and left tens of thousands homeless.

The explosion was caused when a fire ignited a stockpile of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that authorities left sitting in a warehouse for six years.

In the video, the couple, Imad Khalil and Lena Allama start recording as they see a fire break out in warehouse 12 at the city’s port, with black smoke billowing out of the roof.

As they observe the fire, Lena remarks: ‘So unfortunate, hopefully nothing happened to anyone, dear God,’ adding, ‘Dear God, hopefully no one is harmed.’  

She then says in Arabic: ‘Seriously. How come no one except us are filming?’

There is then a small explosion, and what look like fireworks shoot out of the building’s roof with a low rumbling sound.

Unsure whether it is safe to be outside on her balcony, Lena tells her husband to get inside the apartment: ‘What is that sound? Go inside, go inside! Imad, go inside.’ 

‘Oh poor thing! Dear god! Poor thing!’ she can be heard saying. ‘This is a big thing, dear God hopefully no one’s hurt.’ 

But Imad continues to film the terrifying scene, as she orders him to come inside and close the door and windows.

Seconds later a huge explosion, caused by the ammonium nitrate, pulses out a shockwave sending them both reeling backwards and smashing windows and furniture. The phone recording the scene is left lying on the ground.

A picture believed to be of the couple posted from hospital shows they suffered injuries in the blast but escaped with their lives. 

The post by Imad reads: ‘Thank you all from all over for all the messages. Me and Lena are recovering well.’ 

The explosion on Tuesday night, which was the size of a small nuclear bomb, has left at least 137 people dead and a further 5,000 wounded.

There are now thought to be 300,000 left homeless and wide-spread damage estimated at up to $5billion – including a 120-metre long cruise ship which capsized as a result of the blast.

Cypriot police say they have questioned a Russian man over alleged links to a ship and its cargo of ammonium nitrate said to have caused the devastating explosion.

Sixteen employees at the Port of Beirut, including port and customs officials, have been arrested following questioning. 

The explosion has threatened to reignite anti-government protests in Lebanon that have been ongoing since last year amid allegations of entrenched incompetence and corruption.

Emmanuel Macron offered France’s support for the Lebanese people as he visited Beirut on Thursday, but warned the country would ‘continue to sink’ unless its leaders carry out reforms. 

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