Haunting image of Beirut destruction shows clock frozen at 6:09 — the exact time of the explosion

International

(CBS) — At 6:09 p.m. on Tuesday, disaster struck Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. As explosions ravaged the city, one woman poignantly captured the moment, freezing it in time. 

Lebanese photographer Aya Nehme shared a picture she took on her Instagram this week that features a car, completely destroyed by the explosions. Amid the rubble is a clock, stuck at the time 6:09 — the exact moment the explosion happened. 

“It stopped short, never to go again, when Beirut died,” Nehme wrote.

Nehme told CBS News that she took the photo in the Mar Mikhael neighborhood of Beirut. She said the photo did not appear to be staged.

“I went downtown to capture some trace of life in this chaos,” she said. “I came across a destroyed car, in the truck, a clock.  A clock that had stopped at exactly 6:09 pm. The time it all happened. I’ve walked these streets for 25 years, and today I could not recognize them.”

The photo is reminiscent of the iconic frozen clocks and watches found after the atomic bomb devastated Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. Charred timepieces from that day are stuck at about 8:15 a.m., when the U.S. Air Force dropped the uranium bomb, killing more than 100,000 people.

Tuesday’s explosions, which killed at least 150 people and wounded thousands more, destroyed much of Beirut’s port and damaged many of its iconic and historic neighborhoods, as well as residential buildings, hospitals and businesses. About a quarter of a million people lost their homes.

Beirut’s hospitals remained overwhelmed by the wounded, and there were fears of a spike in coronavirus cases.

While investigators focus on port officials, many Lebanese put the blame for the blasts on the political elite, with anti-government protests erupting in the days following the incident.

Natacha Larnaud contributed to this report.

First published on August 8, 2020 / 10:19 AM

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