Bilal Marie Jawich/Facebook/@AbirGhattas/Twitter
As Beirut was rocked by a massive explosion, a hospital nurse was photographed holding three newborn babies, keeping them safe from the surrounding devastation.
Lebanon’s capital saw catastrophic damage following the blast yesterday, August 4, with tipped cars, blown-out windows and homes affected as far as 10km away.
While the numbers are still conservative, at least 100 people have been killed as well as more than 4,000 injured, with Lebanon’s Red Cross dubbing it a ‘huge catastrophe’, and saying there are ‘victims and casualties everywhere’.
In the aftermath of the blast, a nurse – who hasn’t yet been identified – in a local hospital managed to secure three newborn babies. The photographer who captured the moment called her a ‘heroine’. The image has since been shared thousands of times.
In a Facebook post, photographer Bilal Marie Jawich noted that after ’16 years of press photography and lots of wars. I can say I didn’t see what I saw today in Ashrafia area’.
He added: ‘Especially in front of the rum hospital and this ‘heroine’ caught me inside the hospital and was accelerating to call despite the suspension of communication holding three newborn babies and surrounded by dozens of bodies and wounded.’
16 سنة من التصوير الصحفي والكثير من الحروب. استطيع ان اقول لم أرى كالذي رأيته اليوم في منطقة الاشرفية, وخصوصا امام…
Initial reports from the National News Agency pointed the incident to a firecracker warehouse in the city’s port. While the exact reasoning hasn’t been fully confirmed, Lebanon President Michel Aoun attributed the explosion to more than 2,750 tons of abandoned ammonium nitrate – likely confiscated by authorities ‘a while back’, according to General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim.
As reported by Al Arabiya, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said at a defence council meeting: ‘It is unacceptable that a shipment of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate has been present for six years in a warehouse, without taking preventive measures. It is unacceptable and we cannot remain silent on this issue.’
Yukie Mokuo, Lebanon’s UNICEF representative, has since released a statement, urging that ‘our hearts are with children and families who have been impacted, especially those who lost their loved ones’.
"This a promise for the martyrs and the injured." #BeirutBlast: Lebanon's PM Hassan Diab vowed that whoever was responsible for the massive explosion in Beirut would be brought to justice. More @business: https://t.co/pZXeFzzeAj #بيروت pic.twitter.com/WUmagDoE6N
— Bloomberg QuickTake (@QuickTake) August 5, 2020
Mokuo added, as per The Guardian:
UNICEF’s team in Beirut has not been spared. One of our colleagues lost his spouse, seven of our staff were mildly injured and dozens of personnel’s homes were damaged. Most of our staff- as are most people in Lebanon- are in a state of shock.
Yesterday’s catastrophe in Beirut adds to what has already been a terrible crisis for the people of Lebanon compounded by an economic collapse and a surge in coronavirus cases. The pandemic already meant that hospitals are overwhelmed, and frontline workers are exhausted.
Diab added in a televised speech that those responsible for the blast would ‘pay the price… I promise you that this catastrophe will not pass without accountability’.