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Firefighters hailed as heroes after photos emerge of doomed mission

:: Grief-stricken mourners throw flowers at coffin

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A soldier stands at the devastated site of the explosion. Photo: Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters

A soldier stands at the devastated site of the explosion. Photo: Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters

A soldier stands at the devastated site of the explosion. Photo: Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters

A team of Lebanese firefighters have been acclaimed as heroes after pictures emerged of them heading into the Beirut warehouse storing 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate moments before it exploded.

At least 10 firefighters were dispatched to fight the blaze in Beirut's port that ignited the chemicals, leading to the blast that flattened the area and damaged half the capital.

They are all presumed dead, but only one of the team has so far been identified and added to the official death toll of 145.

A funeral was held on Thursday for firefighter Sahar Fares (25) whose body was recovered after the blast. Video shared online showed a crowd howling with grief and throwing flower petals as her coffin was carried from an ambulance while sirens wailed from a convoy of rescue vehicles.

Her fiancé Gilbert Karaan posted an online tribute to his "guardian angel", calling her a martyr and saying they were engaged to be married next year.

"I've lost the will to live since you've been gone," he wrote. "They robbed me of your smile and tenderness. I love you and I will always love you until we meet again and continue our journey together."

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Firefighter Sahar Fares who died in the blast

Firefighter Sahar Fares who died in the blast

Firefighter Sahar Fares who died in the blast

Other photos shared online showed moments from the crew's final fatal mission to extinguish the warehouse fire that sparked the massive blast.

One picture shared online shows three firefighters using a crowbar to try and open a sliding warehouse door. Two of the men are in uniform, while a third is in civilian clothes. A hazardous chemical sign is visible on the door, which is marked as entrance 12. The men were identified as Jo Noon, Methal Hawwa and Najib Hitti by 'MailOnline', which reported that the man who took the photo died and the image recovered from his phone.

The team had been dispatched from a fire station in Karantina, a Beirut district close to the port. The station's fire chief said the crew were heroes.

"They were all good people, they were always willing to be first on the front line," he said, "What can be said of someone who sacrifices himself for the safety of others? They are all heroes and we are indebted to them."

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Firefighters break into the silo moments before the explosion

Firefighters break into the silo moments before the explosion

Firefighters break into the silo moments before the explosion

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Another widely shared photo shows eight of the smiling firefighters sitting inside a rescue vehicle, apparently on their way to the fire at the port.

Ms Fares was seated in the middle, flanked by two men and with five more behind her.

International rescue workers poured into Beirut yesterday, where a two-week state of emergency has been declared.

A British military team was expected to arrive in Beirut to help co-ordinate the British response, but the Lebanese government reportedly turned down an offered search and rescue team, saying it had sufficient capacity already.

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A woman waits for news of her missing son. Photo: Hussein Malla/AP

A woman waits for news of her missing son. Photo: Hussein Malla/AP

A woman waits for news of her missing son. Photo: Hussein Malla/AP

Security forces have sealed a wide cordon around the blast zone, while rescue workers searched for bodies and survivors. The coast guard and navy have been searching the waters off the coast. Yesterday, they made a miraculous rescue, recovering a port worker from the sea, 30 hours after the explosion.

Amin Zahed, a 42-year-old father of two, was believed to have been blown out to sea by the force of the blast. He was bloodied but alive.

His brother, Mohammad, had shared a photo of him with an Instagram page created to help identify missing loved ones. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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An injured man waits to be rescued from beneath a vehicle. Photo: Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

An injured man waits to be rescued from beneath a vehicle. Photo: Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

An injured man waits to be rescued from beneath a vehicle. Photo: Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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