Article content continued

Azakir called over some rescuers and helped them move the car to free the man. See his photos here: https://reut.rs/2EZUrzL

RAZED TO THE GROUND

Even before Tuesday’s explosion, the once elegant and beautiful Beirut city center had already been ravaged by months of protests, and a crippling economic downturn. The blast delivered the final blow, smashing store windows long barricaded and forlorn.

Reuters downtown offices were also destroyed. Senior correspondent Ellen Francis hid under her desk as chunks of the ceiling crashed to the ground and window glass rocketed into computers.

Francis took out her phone to tell colleagues to send a news alert, or a “snap” in Reuters lingo. “I tried sending the message ‘Big Explosion’ and ‘Please Snap,’ but the letters came out jumbled because I was shaking so hard.”

“Are you OK?” screamed Bureau Chief Tom Perry, who had also sought refuge under the desk. He too tried alerting editors, and calling his wife and son. “We need to get out of here.”

Outside the office, Perry and Francis noticed a woman running towards them with open arms and blood streaming down her face. It was Abi Nader trying to get to the office.

“There is no office,” Francis said, as Perry led them to his apartment, where they worked throughout the night amid debris and bashed in walls.

Reuters Middle East Editor Samia Nakhoul has covered the Lebanese civil war, the invasion of Iraq, in which she was severely wounded, and the Arab Spring. When the explosion struck, she was in the car with her two teenage children.

tinyurlis.gdv.gdv.htu.nuclck.ruulvis.netshrtco.detny.im