BEIRUT, (Reuters) – As he entered the delivery room where his wife Emmanuelle was to be born, Edmond Khnaisser thought of capturing their son’s first moment on camera.
Emmanuelle Lteif Khnaisser, who was at work at the Beirut port blast, is holding her baby George at the family home in Jal el-Dib, Lebanon, 12 August 2020. REUTERS / Hannah McKay
Instead, he played the moment the biggest explosion in Lebanon’s history sent entire windows crashing on his 28 – year – old wife’s hospital bed.
“I saw death with my own eyes … I began to feel” is it over? “I looked around and at the ceiling, just waiting for it to fall on us,” Emmanuelle said, recalling the immediate aftermath of the massive blast that injured 6,000 and killed more than 170 people in Beirut on August 4.
By brushing blood and broken glass, employees instinctively carried Emmanuelle into the corridor, fearing that another explosion might follow.
Emmanuelle said she knew she had to focus on giving birth.
“He has to live and I have to be very strong,” she told herself.
Shortly after the explosion, Stephanie Yacoub, a resident of obstetrics and gynecology at St. George Hospital University Medical Center, drove out the room to help an injured nurse.
But it was too late and the nurse died. Yacoub quickly hurried back to Emmanuelle to help her give birth with Professor Elie Anastasiades and a team of doctors.
“There was no electricity and the sun was going down, so we knew we had to do this as soon as possible. And with the use of people’s telephone lights, he came into the world, “she told Reuters a week after the blast.
Seventeen people died at the hospital in St. George immediately after the explosion and dozens were injured, including Edmond Khnaisser’s mother, who received six broken ribs and a punctured lung.
Knaisser ran back and forth between his wife and mother, saying he had a goal in mind to get his new son George to safety.
As they entered the cars of the strangers and out of the perimeter of the explosion, the extent of the destruction began to subside.
They eventually went to a hospital just outside the capital, where George was finally bathed and cleaned.
“George is very special. He is the light in the dark, a birth in a wreck, “said Edmond, showing photos of his son on the Instagram page he created for the boy they now call” miracle “baby George.
Additional reporting by Hannah Ellison, editing by Angus MacSwan