Wedding photographer Mahmoud Nakib was documenting a bride on her wedding day when a massive explosion rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut

By Jason Duaine Hahn
August 06, 2020 04:53 PM

A photographer in Lebanon who set out to capture a newlywed couple's happy day inadvertently captured the moment a massive explosion ripped through the city of Beirut.

Wedding photographer Mahmoud Nakib was busy filming bride Israa Seblani on Tuesday when an explosion along the city's waterfront sent him off balance and Seblani off running into the arms of her husband.

"In just one second, the sky turned black," Nakib told CNN of the moments before the blast sent a powerful shockwave through the city.

Nakib — whose footage of the incident went viral on social media — said he immediately thought of his family as he ran for safety.

"I thought first of my wife and my daughter," he recalled. "I called her to let her know that I'm fine and do not go out. And I went live [on] Facebook to let people know what happened."

Seblani said the photoshoot site, which is usually bustling with people shopping and dining, was immediately thrown into chaos.

"The area I was in — within [a] matter of seconds — it went from beautiful place to ghost town filled with dust, shattered glass and people yelling [and] bleeding," the newlywed said of the terrifying moment. "It was like a nightmare scene."

Israa Seblani
Mahmoud Nakib

No one in the couple's wedding party was injured, according to CNN. In an interview with Reuters, Seblani — a doctor who lives in the United States — said she arrived in Beirut three weeks ago to prepare for the wedding.

"I was so happy like all other girls, ‘I am getting married’. My parents are going to be happy seeing me in a white dress, I will be looking like a princess," the 29-year-old told the outlet.

“What happened during the explosion here — there is no word to explain," Seblani continued. "I was shocked, I was wondering what happened, am I going to die? How am I going to die?"

Seblani's husband, Ahmad Subeih, said the couple struggled to comprehend what had happened following the blast.

"We started to walk around and it was extremely sad, it was not describable the devastation and the sound of the explosion," he told Reuters. "We are still in shock... I have never heard anything similar to the sound of this explosion."

Aftermath of Beirut explosion

According to The New York Times, at least 135 people were killed and 5,000 injured in the accident, which Lebanese officials believe was caused by thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse located in Beirut's port that somehow ignited. Many who were in the vicinity of the blast are still missing, the newspaper added.

"I feel so sad about what happened to other people, about what happened to Lebanon," Seblani told Reuters. "When I woke up and saw the damage that happened to Beirut, the one thing I said was thank God we are still alive."