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Former San Diegan describes Beirut explosion 'shock wave'

Massive explosion rocks Beirut
Posted at 4:52 PM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-05 00:39:32-04

SAN DIGEO (KGTV) - A former San Diegan who lives 3 miles from the site of a deadly, massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, is describing the terrifying moments of the blast.

Elie Shammas and his family were inside their 6-story Beirut apartment. It all began just after 6pm, and it felt like an earthquake.

"In San Diego, feels like a rumble, but this was a jittery," said Shammas.

Shammas, who taught at SDSU a decade ago, says all his locked windows swung open.

"The whole house was moving, and then the shock wave hit us. It was very loud. Outside, it was all dusty. I have three kids, who were jittery and scared," said Shammas.

Shammas raced downstairs and snapped a photo of a huge smoke plume. Shammas says he can't help but recall Lebanon's bloody civil war.

"I lived through Lebanon through the war. I'm used to bombings and shellings, and this was like nothing I've seen before," said Shammas.

Across the world, in San Diego, news of the blast hitting the Lebanese community hard.

"Just a shock. When you see it, you can't believe it's happening," said Shammas.

Nabi Geha, who owns La Miche Kabobgee in Kearny Mesa, immediately called his niece and a cousin, who both live about four miles from the blast site. Both are okay but shaken.

"They woke up to huge impact. Their buildings were shaken. Cars lifted from one side street and thrown to other side," said Geha.

Geha's anxiety over his family still lingers. He has several cousins who work near the blast site.

"Tried to contact them but haven't heard from them. You just worry," said Geha.