JERUSALEM, Israel — Surveillance video captures the shocking moment when last week’s explosion in Beirut ripped through a church, sending a priest and parishioners fleeing for their lives as stained-glass windows clashed around them.
The video has been seen millions of times online and shows just how quickly daily life came to halt in Beirut.
Father Marwan Mouawad, a priest at St. Maron Baouchrieh Church, was off-camera when the explosion hit.
“As usual we started the Mass and at the beginning of it we felt as if an earthquake was happening, the earth was moving, shaking, so first we looked at the roof to see if it was going to collapse on us,” he told the Associated Press.
Footage shows Father Rabih Thoumy swinging a chain censer before running out of frame as pieces of rubble came crashing down.
Fr. Mouawad said he felt God with them when the tragedy struck.
“We felt the grace of God who was with us because when you look at the damage you can think that no-one can come out from this alive because there were big damages with lots of glass and iron pieces that exploded,” he said. “It’s truly a miracle. It’s a miracle.”
Despite all the carnage in Beirut, churchgoers returned for worship on Sunday.
“The faith gives us the courage to come back to the church,” said parishioner Marlene Rauphael. “Of course what we are going through is a catastrophe, we are praying for all the dead people, for all the injured, for all the children. We hope to survive, but here in Lebanon we already are survivors.”