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Jessica Kahawaty’s uncle is trapped under rubble in Beirut blast

The uncle of Australian model Jessica Kahawaty was trapped under piles of rubble after the Beirut port explosion destroyed his office.

Mourad Achkar was filming the billowing smoke from a warehouse fire out his window when the enormous blast ripped through the Lebanese capital.

At least 78 people are dead and 4,000 injured in the explosion at 6.08pm local time (1.08am AEST) on Tuesday caused by 2,750 tonnes of stored ammonium nitrate.

The uncle of Australian model Jessica Kahawaty (pictured) was trapped under piles of rubble after the Beirut port explosion destroyed his office

Mr Achkar was knocked off his feet as the massive shockwave blew out his office windows less than a second after the explosion.

‘He was under all the rubble and helped injured people. Thank God he’s OK, I hope all your family and friends are OK,’ Kahawaty said.

The Sydney-born model said she was ‘in absolute shock and sadness’ after the disaster that leveled hundreds of buildings.

‘The Lebanese people did not need this disaster. The country had to endure the revolution, the corrupt government, inflation, coronavirus, poverty, and now this.’

Mr Achkar posted a video reassuring family and friends that he wasn’t badly hurt, but lamented the damage done to his city.

‘I’m okay but the situation is a disaster. Gemmayze, the port… the place is in chaos. No one should worry about me,’ he said.

SBS producer Marty Smiley shared a video on Twitter of his aunts watching the after-effects of the explosion in shock.

‘For people who lived thru 15 years of war. A blast like this would fill you with a serious fear,’ he wrote.

Mourad Achkar (pictured left with Kahawaty) was knocked off his feet as the massive shockwave blew out his office windows less than a second after the explosion

Mourad Achkar (pictured left with Kahawaty) was knocked off his feet as the massive shockwave blew out his office windows less than a second after the explosion

Mr Achkar was filming the billowing smoke from a factory fire out his window when the enormous blast ripped through the Lebanese capital

Mr Achkar was filming the billowing smoke from a factory fire out his window when the enormous blast ripped through the Lebanese capital

One Australian is confirmed dead in the disaster and others may be injured or missing with hundreds still trapped in rubble.

Dozens of photos of missing people have been shared on social media as friends and family desperately search for them.

More than $7,000 has been raised for disaster recovery by Australians in just two hours via a GoFundMe set up by prominent Sydney Lebanese community member Huss Faraj.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Australian embassy had been ‘significantly’ damaged in the deadly blast but staff escaped with minor injuries.

‘It’s my deep regret to inform you that one Australian has been killed in this horrific blast,’ he told the Today show on Wednesday morning. 

Mr Achkar devastated office covered in rubble, some of which he was buried under, in the aftermath of the explosion

Mr Achkar devastated office covered in rubble, some of which he was buried under, in the aftermath of the explosion

The view of the port through the window of the ruined office shows the devastation

The view of the port through the window of the ruined office shows the devastation

‘Obviously, we can’t give more details about the specifics at this time but our sympathies to all of the people in Lebanon. 

‘There is such a large Lebanese Australian community here and they would be worried about loved ones. The details will hopefully be provided soon.’

He said embassy staff were working to determine how many Australians had been injured.

‘I know there will be many prayers in the churches and the mosques in Australia but given the Covid-19 restrictions, I would just urge the appropriate response.’ 

More than 20,000 Australians of Lebanese descent usually holiday in Lebanon this time of year, but far less made the trip due to travel bans.

The massive explosion has killed at least 73 people, including one Australian, Scott Morrison confirmed on Wednesday

The massive explosion has killed at least 73 people, including one Australian, Scott Morrison confirmed on Wednesday

Dramatic footage shows smoke billowing from the port area shortly before an enormous fireball explodes into the sky and blankets the city in a thick mushroom cloud

Dramatic footage on social media shows people screaming as an enormous blast rocks the waterside area of Lebanon's capital city

Dramatic footage shows smoke billowing from the port area shortly before an enormous fireball explodes into the sky and blankets the city in a thick mushroom cloud

Witnesses described the sheer enormity of the blast, which was heard 125 miles away in Cyprus, and likened it to a ‘nuclear bomb’.

It obliterated the immediate surrounding buildings, where firefighters were still battling flames, and even inflicted damage on districts miles away from the blast site.

One witness said: ‘I saw a fireball and smoke billowing over Beirut. People were screaming and running, bleeding. Balconies were blown off buildings. Glass in high-rise buildings shattered and fell to the street.’ 

Images showed port buildings reduced to tangled masonry, devastating the main entry point to a country that relies on food imports to feed its population of more than six million.

It obliterated the immediate surrounding buildings, where firefighters were still battling flames this evening, and even inflicted damage on districts miles away from the blast site

It obliterated the immediate surrounding buildings, where firefighters were still battling flames this evening, and even inflicted damage on districts miles away from the blast site

The fire is believed to have started in a fireworks warehouse, and firecrackers could be seen going off in the air before the huge blast. 

General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim said: ‘It appears that there is a warehouse containing material that was confiscated years ago, and it appears that it was highly explosive material.’

Lebanon’s interior minister said ammonium nitrate had been stored in the unit since 2014, with experts agreeing that the chemical would cause the red plume of smoke which burst up from the blast.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab vowed in a televised address that ‘those responsible for this catastrophe will pay the price,’ and declared Wednesday a day of national mourning. 

It lay waste to the immediate surrounding buildings, where firefighters were still battling flames this evening, and even wreaked havoc on districts miles away from the blast site

It lay waste to the immediate surrounding buildings, where firefighters were still battling flames this evening, and even wreaked havoc on districts miles away from the blast site

Medics shift an injured person from Najjar Hospital to another hospital in Al-Hamra area in Beirut after several hospitals were damaged in the blast

Medics shift an injured person from Najjar Hospital to another hospital in Al-Hamra area in Beirut after several hospitals were damaged in the blast  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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