“#Man who shot video of Beirut blast describes ‘unimaginable’ aftermath”
Abdallah Rashidi, 26, a former UK university student, began recording the fire at a warehouse in the Lebanese capital’s port moments before the cataclysmic explosion sent a giant mushroom cloud skyward, the Daily Mail reported.
“When you see the blast slowly approaching you, you think you’re dead,” said Rashidi, who was drinking coffee on his balcony in the Sodeco neighborhood several miles from the epicenter, according to the outlet.
“People didn’t believe the video actually happened when I sent it. It looks like it’s from a movie really, it’s completely unimaginable. Part of me is still in denial,” he said.
Rashidi said he even saw a group of doomed firefighters who responded to the fire right before the epic explosion.
“This huge force just came out of the fire. It was slowly expanding and I just froze. In my head I was just thinking, ‘It’s going to hit me,’” he said. “You could see buildings getting pulled apart and crumbling. Thoughts flashing through my mind – ‘Will it hit me? Will I die?’”
After being blown several feet into his home, Rashidi said he wasn’t sure if he was dreaming or had died.
“There was this white flash, and I heard people screaming,” said Rashidi, who shared the terrifying video with friends on WhatsApp before it made its way online, the Daily Mail reported.
Despite his immediate fears, neither he nor his napping father Fouad, 54, were injured, the outlet reported, but they fled amid fears the block would collapse.
“We thought the apartment block could crumble, we were acting on instinct,” recalled Rashidi, who drove to his family home south of the ravaged city.
‘We thought it was the start of a war with the rumors. I blanked out some of my memory,” he added.
He returned the following to a scene of post-apocalyptic devastation.
“What you see on TV is nothing compared to what you see in person,” he said. “You can see body parts everywhere, cars on their roofs with people dead inside.
“Seeing all the body parts on the ground was so overwhelming. You could see people looking for their families and just seeing body parts scattered everywhere,” he added.
Rashidi studied for his master’s degree in English and linguistics at Coventry University and later worked as an English lecturer at the school’s new campus in New Cairo, Egypt, the Daily mail reported.
He moved back to Beirut at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and is now completing the thesis for his degree.
“I want to share awareness, I want people to donate, I want people to help in whatever way they can,” he said. “The Lebanese people have really suffered enough.
“We were in the middle of an economic crisis, there was political corruption going on,” Rashidi added. “Beirut has been destroyed and built again seven times, this looks like it will be the eighth.”
On Monday, Lebanese prime Minister Hassan Diab stepped down amid widespread unrest over the blast, which killed more than 200 people and injured about 6,000, and declared the resignation of the government.
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