Warning: graphic content
A missing port worker in Beirut has been found in the Mediterranean Sea following the explosion on Aug. 4. Injured but miraculously alive, the man survived in the water for nearly 30 hours after being thrown from the port by the force of the blast.
Amin al-Zahed was admitted to the Rafic Hariri University Hospital in Beirut after a sea rescue team found him and pulled him into their boat, Al Arabiya reported. Al-Zahed was weak and bloodied but still breathing. A photo of the rescue shows al-Zahed in blood-soaked, tattered clothing, being treated by a Lebanese soldier.
Al-Zahed’s picture was posted on an Instagram page for missing persons, allowing him to be identified. However, in an interview on Lebanese television following the man’s rescue on Aug. 6, his family explained that they had been unable to find their loved one at the hospital, reports The Sun.
A Rafic Hariri University Hospital doctor told Al Arabiya: “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?”
It is unclear how the port worker managed to survive in the water for almost 30 hours, sustaining such serious injuries from the blast.
There were over 150 recorded fatalities and over 5,000 people injured by the blast so far. The powerful explosion has left approximately 300,000 people homeless, according to USA Today.
A team from the University of Sheffield estimated that the blast intensity measured roughly one-tenth that of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb. Many of the victims were port and customs employees, local workers, and commuters driving through.
As for what caused the explosion, officials revealed that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate seized from a ship in 2014 had been stored for six years at the port without proper safety measures in place.
“It is negligence,” a source told Reuters, yet “nothing was done” despite the matter being raised at committee meetings to have the dangerous material relocated or disposed of. A fire allegedly started at port warehouse 9 on Aug. 4, spreading to warehouse 12, where the ammonium nitrate was stored.
After the Lebanese Red Cross initiated a search-and-rescue mission, several miraculous rescue stories made headlines. Another encouraging survival story was that of a young girl found alive after being buried under rubble for 24 hours.
The Daily Mail shared footage of rescue workers locating the child under rubble of a fallen building.
President Michel Aoun announced that he would allocate $66 million of emergency funds toward rescue and relief efforts. The European Union also said it would send rescue teams, search dogs, and equipment to Beirut to search for survivors.
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