Brit journalist describes bloodsoaked mayhem of Beirut blast as victims died in front of his eyes

Brit journalist describes bloodsoaked mayhem of Beirut blast as victims died in front of his eyes

A BRITISH journalist has told how victims died in front of him after a killer blast levelled Beirut shredding his own apartment in the city.

Here, Owen Holdaway relives the horror moment the explosion devastated the Lebanese capital leaving 135 dead and bloody scenes of death and destruction.

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The deadly blast in Beirut has rocked this city in more ways than one and left me riding a rollercoaster of emotions.

Most devastating is the dreadful loss of life and the horrific injuries so many suffered in the explosion at the city's port.

On a personal note, my own flat was among thousands of homes which were destroyed in the horrific tragedy.

But it could have been a lot, lot worse for this journalist.

The drama all started at 6pm on Tuesday evening just as I had returned from a run around the port – right where the explosion happened.

As I sat down at my computer to start to work I heard a small bang.

As I got up to see what was going on…suddenly BOOM the next explosion hit.

At that moment my balcony windows were shattered, my cupboards were blown off the wall and I was knocked off my feet.

My initial thought was that it must have been a bomb.

However, as a journalist, I knew I had to head to find out exactly what had happened.

Despite the obvious threat, I grabbed my phone, ran outside and started to film the immediate aftermath of the blast.

It's a dangerous habit I picked up while working on the frontline in war-torn Mosul, Iraq.

What is known so far:

  • At least 135 people were killed and 5,000 injured in the explosion
  • 300,000 left homeless after blast caused nearly £4bn of damage
  • Boris Johnson has drafted in the Royal Navy to help rebuild Beirut
  • Brit wounded in the blast feared he had been blinded by flying debris
  • Donald Trump now admits explosion could be accident after all
  • Shocking before and after satellite pics show disaster ground zero

However, it has served me well and in the past I have managed to capture incredible footage including ISIS sniper attacks for the Sun Online.

And on Tuesday it was clear to see the city was also looking very battle scarred.

I also realised I need to file some copy and that would mean finding somewhere with internet still up and running.

Then I remembered a bar on the corner and hoped its routers would still be working.

I quickly checked and scanned for the network. Yes, it came up and I automatically logged on. 
Immediately I was hit with a barrage of messages.

Some were from friends asking if I was okay but most were from editors seeing what I could provide.

I quickly filed a few videos and then told them I was near Geitawi Hospital where some of the injured were being taken.

When I arrived, I was greetedby scenes of complete pandemonium.

The dozen or so staff were attempting their best, but were completely overwhelmed.  

In one of the rooms I witnessed a doctor giving CPR to a middle-aged man in vain.

I stood there transfixed as he passed away in front of my eyes.

After filming people looking like zombies from the Walking Dead I headed back to the bar to work.

I repeated this routine -to and from the hospital – before finally calling it at night at 3:30am. 
The next morning, my alarm went off at 7am and then I was sent to the port to cover ground zero.

I jumped in an Uber and headed there but the traffic was terrible and the streets were full of destruction.

 There were army checkpoints everywhere and in the end I decided to get out of the taxi and run through the scorching heat to meet up with my cameraman.

A young girl in her 20s then approached me and I asked if she was okay
"No, No I cannot find my friends. I have been searching for them" she mumbled. 
She had been looking since the early hours for some of her childhood friends who had gone down to the port as first responders.
My cameraman began to film as I asked her questions.
"They only found their helmets…" she said before breaking down in front of me.  

Losing my journalistic composure, I gave her a hug as she sobbed on my shoulder.
 I finished up my last report at 3am and then got set to crash for the evening.I was exhausted, but just could not sleep.
I opened up my laptop and began to write, it was helping me process, process the events, the events of the past two days.

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