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She was posing for her wedding shoot and then there was a massive explosion right behind her

"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 bride recalled.

She was posing for her wedding shoot and then there was a massive explosion right behind her
Image Source: Mahmoud Nakib

Israa Seblani looked radiant in an extravagant white gown and veil on her wedding day. The 29-year-old and her newly-wed husband, Ahmad Sbeih, were all smiles as they posed for the camera on what was a beautiful Tuesday out on the streets of Beirut—moments before a blast that would send shockwaves across the Lebanese capital. Seblani, a doctor working in the United States, was just getting her bridal shots taken when all of a sudden, there was a loud noise followed by an eardrum-shattering blast that nearly blew her off her feet.

 



 

The dramatic footage—captured by the couple's wedding photographer, Mahmoud Nakib—immortalized the exact moment a massive explosion rocked the city of Beirut, leaving at least 135 dead and 5,000 injured. "We were filming an outdoor photo session for the (Seblani) and (Sbeih), then we heard an explosion," Nakib told CNN about the clip that has since gone viral on social media. "That was the first explosion, we thought that it was far away, we continued filming normally. In just one second, the sky turned black and we heard the second explosion."

 



 

This eardrum-shattering explosion sent an intense gust of wind roaring through the Saifi Village, jolting everyone who was out and about, going about what they thought was just another normal day. Although the explosion's shockwave nearly toppled her over, Seblani quickly managed to regain her composure as she knew people would be in need of medical attention. Still dressed in her heavy wedding gown, the bride helped to check on the injured nearby before fleeing the square to safety. "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," she said.

 



 

"It was like a nightmare scene," Seblani added. Speaking to Reuters about the aftermath of the blast the next day, Sbeih—a businessman in Beirut—recalled: "We started to walk around and it was extremely sad, it was not describable the devastation and the sound of the explosion. We are still in shock... I have never heard anything similar to the sound of this explosion." Seblani, who had arrived in Beirut three weeks earlier to prepare for her wedding, is still struggling to process what happened. "I have been preparing for my big day for two weeks and I was so happy like all other girls, 'I am getting married,'" she said.

 



 

"My parents are going to be happy seeing me in a white dress, I will be looking like a princess," the newlywed continued. "What happened during the explosion here - there is no word to explain... I was shocked, I was wondering what happened, am I going to die? How am I going to die?" Seblani revealed that although she and her husband tried to compose themselves and carry on with their celebrations after the blast, she was in shock for most of it. "My husband told me to continue, we can’t stop. I was like okay, why not, we continue. I was not living the moment actually, I was like walking, my face was smiling, my lips were smiling, that’s it, not more. Then we went to have dinner," she said.

 



 

"I feel so sad about what happened to other people, about what happened to Lebanon," she added. "When I woke up and saw the damage that happened to Beirut, the one thing I said was 'Thank God we are still alive.'" Sbeih is now waiting for a visa to the United States to join his wife there as, despite her love for Lebanon, Seblani doesn't think she can live there after the blast. However, she wants to find joy in a wedding she took so long to prepare. "There is a lot of damage, many people were killed and wounded. But also if I want to look at us, myself, my husband, the photographer - how we escaped unharmed, I thank God for protecting us," she said. "This alone makes me feel optimistic and to keep the joy of the occasion that I came here to celebrate."

 



 

As for, Nakib—who was pushed down the street by the explosion's shockwave—his camera kept rolling through the moments right after the blast, shakily documenting the chaos that followed. "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."

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