Local resident and Lebanon native reacts to massive Beirut explosion

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The explosion in Beirut caused panic even here in the Stateline. A local resident said he was in a meeting when he found out about his former home–and where his loved ones still live–was up in flames.

An explosion shook the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Tuesday. When Sobhi Baghdadi saw the news, he too felt the shockwave–six thousand miles away in Illinois.

“I stopped everything and I started calling all my friends and family just making sure everyone was safe,” Baghdadi explained.

The Rockford University alum and Lebanon native says miraculously relatives that live only three miles from the explosion were okay.

“They have broken glass, damaged cars and they are in a very bad situation, especially now with COVID-19 is ravaging there,” he said. “I can’t wrap my head around what’s going on right now, you think we were afraid of COVID there…but now with this happening it’s just it’s a catastrophe.”

With death tolls rising, he says the city of Beirut is in chaos.

“Hospitals are flooding with injured people and there are calls to donate blood everywhere,” Baghdadi said.

The blast took him back to 2005 when the prime minister was killed. Baghdadi was studying for his undergrad degree.

“What happened today brought a lot of flashback memories from my undergrad experience at the American University of Beirut,” he said. “Basically I lived it, I lived [through] four years [of] instability but Lebanon is very well known for being resilient.”

“I learned a lot about being resilient from living and studying in Beirut for those four years. When something happens, you have to stand up again and live your life again,” Baghdadi added.

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