August 4, 2020, 6:07 p.m., the sun is shining over the corniche, the pride of Beirut. Passers-by and onlookers enjoy the view of the turquoise Mediterranean on this promenade lined with giant palm trees. A little further south, in the district of Gemmayzeh, Israa and Ahmad are living the happiest day of their lives. This Tuesday, a stone's throw from the port of Beirut, in the heart of the Lebanese capital, it's wedding day.
Israa, the bride dressed in an immaculate dress, smiles like never before before the lens of the photographer responsible for immortalizing their union. Mahmoud Nakib, freelance television director, uses a steadycam to film the bride in the middle of one of the prettiest squares in the area, decorated with marble and with false Venetian balconies. Her camera gets lost in the huge veil that covers the bride's hair. A huge explosion then sounds. The camera continues to film… a surreal scene.
VIDEO. Beirut explosion: wedding film captures moment of drama
Joined this Thursday, Mahmoud Nakib is still in shock. “The moment it happened, that noise… it's indescribable, it's unlike anything I've known…” attempts to describe this talented 26-year-old music video director. “Although I live in Lebanon I had never experienced such a moment, all this horror that followed the explosion, this chaos, this blood in the streets…” he describes visibly traumatized.
“This shock wave was like an atomic bomb! "
“This noise was extraordinary, then I didn't hear much except screams, screams. My heart started to beat extremely quickly. By reflex, I wanted to go on my right but the shock wave pushed me violently to my left, I was no longer in control of my movements ”he recalls, troubled. “This shock wave was like an atomic bomb! I felt like I was in an action movie… more in my life, ”he laments.
“In my head, I almost automatically said to myself, where do I go, where do I go? And I thought of my wife and my daughter, ”Mahmoud explains again. “My second thought, went to the bride and groom. I went towards them and we took refuge in a restaurant, our luck was that there were no glasses or unstable buildings around us ”specifies the photographer. Indeed, married couples like Mahmoud are miraculously spared from injury. A real miracle in view of their proximity to the site of the explosion.
“I spoke to them, and told them to go and take refuge with them, but Ahmad heard over the phone that their house was destroyed. They were devastated, ”he is moved. After a few minutes, the couple eventually join the rest of their family in their neighborhood. But they must then slalom through the debris and bloody people wandering in the nearby main street George Haddad. A nightmare scene.
"Everything was destroyed around us"
“Everything was destroyed around us. It was almost impossible to take the road as the cars littered the road are overturned or destroyed. There were glass and bloody people everywhere, ”the photographer remembers painfully. "I never wanted to experience such moments, I asked myself the question: should we leave here? But where can I go? He repeats to us, his voice trembling.
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Originally from Saïda, 50 km south of Beirut, “I immediately called my wife and my daughter who fortunately were safe and sound”. The director had already seen for months his income collapsing with the economic crisis, then the Covid-19 crisis. This Thursday, his family is his only hope because the future is more uncertain than ever in Lebanon.
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A post shared by mahmoud Nakib (@mahmoudnakibb) on May 7, 2019 at 3:23 am PDT