Philippe Tawileh, whose wife recently accepted a job in Montreal, was with his family watching television after dinner when they heard an explosion and felt the house was shaking.
The family of five who live in Byblos (Jbeil), about 40 kilometers north of Beirut in Lebanon, rushed to look out the window, but they didn’t notice a thing, Philippe Tawileh said in an interview with The Canadian Press Tuesday evening.
“We felt like an earthquake and we heard the explosion. It was very strong, big, huge. ”
That’s when he opened the TV to watch the news while simultaneously scrolling through his social media to find out what was going on.
Philippe Tawileh’s 22-month-old son, Alexandre, was born in Montreal and is a Canadian citizen. Her two other children are Andrew, nine, and Adriana, eight.
His wife, Rawane Dagher, who is a pediatrician, recently accepted a job at a Montreal hospital. They are waiting for their documents to immigrate, these have been delayed by the pandemic, he said. His parents and his brother live in Quebec.
Philippe Tawileh said Beirut and its surroundings are rocked by explosions every few months.
“You know in Lebanon, normally we are used to explosions. Now it was new for the kids to hear something so huge. So they were scared – they were very scared, ”he said.
“They came and asked, ‘What happened there, daddy?’
Sounds of police and ambulance sirens sounded within minutes of the explosion, he said adding that it was dusty for a while, and a strange odor lingered in the air.
“Here we are 40 kilometers away, and when we go out we can smell a certain chemical smell, something strange. I do not know what it is.”
Rawane Dagher said she rushed to the local hospital within minutes of the explosion.
The queue in front of the emergency room was “shocking”, she said, noting that some cripples were carrying injured children.
With most of Beirut’s hospitals overcrowded and others destroyed by explosions, so the hospital near her home took in patients from the capital, she said.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said. “Even the older doctors who have survived many wars in Lebanon have never seen such a dire situation.”
Canada’s Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said a member of the Canadian Forces suffered injuries after the blasts.
“A member of the Forces suffered minor injuries today. We are providing him with all the support he needs and wish him a speedy recovery. ”
The federal government claims that there are 10,996 Canadians in Lebanon who are registered in the Registration of Canadians Abroad database. However, as registration is voluntary, this number does not present a complete picture of Canadians in Lebanon.
Hina Alam, The Canadian Press