This is the dramatic moment a man was pulled alive from the rubble of an apartment building, hours after a massive explosion tore through the city of Beirut.
People could be heard cheering ‘Issam is alive!’ as the wounded man was placed on a stretcher and taken to hospital, one of more than 4,000 injured in the blast.
Meanwhile other desperate citizens launched searches for their loved ones online and in hospital, as dozens of people were reported missing.
Among them were workers at the port where the blast occurred, and a fireman who was dispatched to deal was a fire at the docks before the larger explosion rang out.
Meanwhile a nurse was hailed a hero after saving three newborn babies from a hospital that was shredded by the shockwave from the blast.
The woman, who has not been publicly identified, was pictured cradling the newborns in the reception of the hospital by photographer Bilal Marie Jawich.
He said the reception area was filled with dozens of bodies and people who had been wounded in the explosion.
Four nurses at the hospital were killed, while 200 patients were wounded and the entire building was left without power for several hours.
At least 100 people were killed in the explosion, thought to have been triggered by a fire in a warehouse used to store ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive chemical.
A welder is thought to have been working in an adjacent building, sparking a blaze that eventually reached the ammonium and caused it to go off with the force of 3 kilotons – roughly a fifth of the power of the Little Boy bomb used on Hiroshima.
An Instagram page called ‘locate victims Beirut’ sprung up in the wake of the tragedy, featuring images of those whose fates were unknown while emergency rooms were thronged with people looking for news.
The intensity of the blast threw victims into the sea and rescue teams were still trying to recover bodies. Many of those killed were port and custom employees and people working in the area or driving through during rush hour.
The Red Cross was coordinating with the Health Ministry to set up morgues because hospitals were overwhelmed.
As thousands of walking wounded made their way into hospital, search and rescue teams were dispatched into the ruins of the city’s port and surrounding area to hunt for survivors and victims.
Authorities warned that the death toll is likely to rise as the day goes on.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab vowed those responsible will ‘pay the price’ as he declared a two-week state of emergency to deal with the crisis, urging all world leaders and ‘friends of Lebanon’ to donate aid to the country, adding: ‘We are witnessing a real catastrophe.’
The US, UK, France, Gulf states and even bitter rivals Israel have offered money and assistance, as President Michel Aoun declared three days of mourning and announced he would release $66million of emergency funds.
The European Union said Wednesday it would rush rescuers, search dogs and equipment to Beirut to look for any survivors trapped in rubble after the massive blast that struck the city.
‘The EU Civil Protection Mechanism is now coordinating the urgent deployment of over a 100 highly trained firefighters, with vehicles, dogs and equipment, specialised in search and rescue in urban contexts,’ the European commission for crisis management, Janez Lenarcic, said in a statement.
‘They will work with the Lebanese authorities to save lives on the ground.’
Lebanese authorities requested help under the mechanism after the port of Beirut was hit by twin explosions on Tuesday – the second one a blast that mushroomed out with the force of an earthquake.
Lenarcic said the Czech Republic, Greece and the Netherlands have already committed to the operation, while France, Germany and Poland were offering assistance. He called it ‘an immediate first step’.
‘We stand with Lebanon and its people and are ready to mobilise further help,’ he said.
The EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism, created in 2001, enables the European Union to coordinate aid efforts to respond to emergency situations around the world.