Beirut explosion: Port worker found alive in sea some 30 hours after blast

An Instagram page dedicated to locating missing residents shows dozens of faces as tales of miracles and heroism emerge from the devastating Beirut explosion

    A port worker blown into sea by the massive chemical explosion in Beirut was found alive 30 hours later, as the faces of dozens of missing victims are posted online by desperate parents.

    Amin al-Zahed was found in the Mediterannean sea, 30 hours after the blast rocked the capital of Lebanon on Tuesday.

    Bloodied and battered, a picture posted on an Instagram page dedicated to locating missing residents shows the man being held by a rescue worker.

    They are on the deck of a ship and Al-Arabiya reports he was rushed to Rafic Hariri University Hospital in Beirut.

    However, al-Zahed's family spoke on Lebanese TV today, saying they had checked the hospital but have been unable to find him.

    Have you been affected by the explosion? Email [email protected]

    Amin al-Zahed is held on the boat before being rushed to hospital
    (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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    It is a mystery as to how he survived his ordeal and his current condition is unknown.

    The Instagram  page was set up to try to help locate missing persons in the aftermath of the blast, which has killed at least 157 people.

    The page shows hundreds of people whose families are desperately seeking information as to where they are.

    One of these, a little girl, was found alive in the rubble 24 hours after the explosion, which saw thousands left homeless when 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate detonated at the city's port.

    Amin al-Zahed is a port worker

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    A remarkable video which has emerged shows the moment a small child was rescued from the wreckage.

    Her head and arms can be seen poking out from under debris as rescuers move rubble away from her body.

    Little whimpering noises can be heard from the child as she is helped in the emotional footage.

    Local media reports that the girl spent 24 hours buried in the wreckage of a collapsed building.

    Incredible footage shows the little girl found alive among the destruction
    (Image: Twitter)

    Lebanon has declared three days of mourning as the search for victims continues and more than 250,000 people are homeless or displaced.

    Many homes have been destroyed, turning people's lives upside down.

    Relatives gathered at a cordon to Beirut port seeking information on those still missing as the search continued.

    Dozens are still unaccounted for. Desperate relatives have been scouring the wreckage for missing loved-ones.

    Taleen Youssef Ahmed is missing

    A man was today pulled alive from the rubble of an apartment building.

    Cheers of 'Issam is alive!' could be heard as the bloodied man was placed on a stretcher and taken to hospital.

    Many of those killed were port and custom employees, people working in the area or those driving nearby during the Tuesday evening rush hour.

    Meanwhile, a hero nurse was hailed for saving three newborn babies.

    The nurse was seen cradling the infants in her arms while she was on the phone in a reception area "surrounded by dozens of bodies and wounded" amid scenes of devastation across the city.

    The woman is wearing blue scrubs and a protective face mask, due to the coronavirus pandemic, in the snap taken by photographer Bilal Marie Jawish at the Lebanese capital's Saint George Hospital University Medical Center.

    The photographer wrote on Facebook that he has covered "lots of wars" but he had never witnessed anything like the Beirut blast – and the hero nurse – before.

    He wrote: "16 years of press photography and lots of wars.

    Nick Stabile and Kate Stabile are missing in Beirut

    "I can say I didn't see what I saw today in Ashrafia area, 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."

    The explosion killed four nurses and injured about 200 patients, visitors and staff as it left the hospital non-operational.

    It suffered significant damage and was without electricity in the hours after the explosion.

    There were so many patients that doctors and nurses had to treat people in a car park outside after shattered glass and debris was cleared.

    Missing mother and son Thomas and Laurey Babin

    The Lebanese Red Cross sent teams to transport patients to other hospitals.

    A doctor at the scene told Al Arabiya English: “We’re bringing the patients to the emergency building, and from there, we’re trying to send them to different hospitals because the urgent care is also full. What can we do?”

    Sleiman Haroun, head of the Syndicate of Hospitals in Lebanon, said mass injuries occurring amid the Covid-19 pandemic was“catastrophic".

    Hospitals were so overwhelmed that the walking wounded were turned away so medics could focus on those with life-threatening or more serious injuries.

    Khalil Issa is missing

    One local report claimed hospital morgues were full of bodies after the explosion occurred amid the coronavirus pandemic. There was an appeal for blood donations as stocks were depleted in the aftermath of the disaster

    The explosion is thought to have been triggered by a fire that was sparked by a welder, according to local media.

    More than 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilisers and bombs, exploded in a warehouse where it had been stored without safety measures for six years, according to officials.

    A plea is being made to find Nadia Bechir Georges

    As teams searched the rubble for survivors and bodies, photos from the blast site showed apocalyptic scenes with a massive crater and buildings flattened by a blast that is said to have had a fifth of the power of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

    A preliminary investigation revealed Tuesday's blast occurred after a fire was sparked by someone welding a small hole to prevent theft from the warehouse, the Lebanese TV station LBCI reported.

    A security source told Reuters it was started by welding work being carried out on a hole in the warehouse located in the Port of Beirut.

    Video posted on social media showed slashes and pops as the fire raged just moments before the explosion sent a shockwave through the city on the Mediterranean, leading to speculation the blast occurred at a fireworks storage site.

    Kamal Rahma is among those missing after the blast

    Badri Daher, director general of Lebanese Customs, said it appears fireworks were being stored close to the ammonium nitrate. The explosive material was seized from a ship in 2014.

    A shockwave that obliterated buildings and knocked people off their feet was felt as far away as Cyprus, some 125 miles from the blast site.

    "What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe," the head of Lebanon's Red Cross George Kettani told broadcaster Mayadeen.

    "There are victims and casualties everywhere."

    An injured girl is carried after the explosion rocked Beirut on Tuesday
    (Image: / MEGA)

    Prime Minister Hassan Diab promised there would be accountability for the deadly blast at the "dangerous warehouse", adding "those responsible will pay the price."

    A number of British nationals, including embassy staff and journalists, were caught up in the disaster, with a "small number" suffering non-life-threatening injuries.

    Schools minister Nick Gibb told Sky News all embassy staff based in Beirut are accounted for.

    Mr Gibb added that "we don't know yet" how many British nationals are affected and that "the Prime Minister of Lebanon has asked for assistance".

    A wounded survivor waits for help outside a hospital
    (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

    Dozens of people are feared to be missing and the death toll is expected to rise as search and rescue teams look for victims buried under twisted metal and debris from buildings.

    Dazed, weeping and injured people walked through streets searching for relatives.

    Worried residents have been posting photos of the missing on social media as part of desperate efforts to find them. An Instagram account created after the blast now has dozens of appeals and more than 65,000 followers.

    "There are many people missing. People are asking the emergency department about their loved ones and it is difficult to search at night because there is no electricity," Health Minister Hamad Hasan told Reuters.

    The explosion sent a shockwave through the capital

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    A number of countries have promised to send aid to Lebanon as thousands of residents were left homeless or forced to sleep in high-rise flats that suffered significant damage.

    Business Secretary Alok Sharma confirmed the UK Government is working to send a package of support.

    The American embassy in Beirut warned residents about reports of toxic gases released by the blast, urging people to stay indoors and wear masks if available.

    The blast revived memories of a 1975-90 civil war and its aftermath, when Lebanese endured heavy shelling, car bombings and Israeli air raids. Some residents thought an earthquake had struck.

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    An official source familiar with preliminary investigations told Reuters the incident was blamed on "inaction and negligence", saying "nothing was done" by committees and judges involved in the matter to order the removal of the ammonium nitrate.

    As residents angrily demand answers, cabinet has ordered port officials involved in storing or guarding the ammonium nitrate to be put under house arrest.

    The explosion was the most powerful ever in Beirut, shockwaves smashed building facades, sucked furniture out into streets and shattered windows miles inland.

    The city is still scarred by a civil war that ended three decades ago and reeling from an economic meltdown and a surge in coronavirus infections.


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