Aussie in Beirut: ‘Friends, neighbours … just ripped apart’

 

 

Australian Omar Jheir, 41, was in his apartment 500m from the blast when it occurred. This is his first-person account:

"We opened the windows to look and within three seconds there was a huge explosion. The sheer magnitude of it was more powerful than anything I have ever experienced.

"I was thrown against the wall, bruising my ribs, and my house just collapsed around us.

"There was so much dust we could not see anything. The streets were in chaos.

Omar Jheir suffered a broken hand and many cuts.
Omar Jheir suffered a broken hand and many cuts.

"I own a hotel, restaurant and coffee shop in Gemmayze Street. There is nothing left.

"My friends, my neighbours, my customers, they were just ripped apart. There was blood gushing out of their faces. There were people on the floor dead. It was devastating.

"I was not wearing shoes and there was glass everywhere. My feet were cut to ribbons as I walked down the street.

"I grabbed two table sheets to bandage them until I saw a friend and he gave me his shoes.

"We started searching for a hospital. There is one near my house but it was flattened.

Omar Jheir’s apartment 500m from the blast site.
Omar Jheir’s apartment 500m from the blast site.

"We went to four but they were ­unable to treat us. The fifth one stitched us up, I have stitches all over my body. My hand is broken. We drove north for two hours and were admitted to a hospital in Tripoli.

"My wife and I had only been back in Lebanon for one month. I came back to Australia to get married and show my wife where I grew up in North Parramatta.

"Whoever is res­ponsible, we have got to get rid of a government that allowed this to happen and has ripped this country apart."

Originally published as Aussie in Beirut: 'Friends, neighbours, customers … just ripped apart'


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