Dubai: On the August 4 at 6.05pm Beirut time, nurse Pamela Zainoun was working her shift on the maternity floor, when a blast hit the city and destroyed the hospital she worked in. A few hours later a picture of her holding three premature babies amid the rubble and trying to get help on the phone spread all over the world.
The picture was taken by photojournalist Bilal Jawish and posted by him saying: "16 years of press photography and lots of wars. I can say I didn't see what I saw today in Ashrafieh area, especially in front of the Al Roum Hospital. I was caught by this heroine who was rushing to a call while holding three newborns. Dozens of dead and wounded people surrounding her."
Jawish, in an interview with CNN Arabic, said: "I was amazed when I saw the nurse holding the three newborns."
He added: "I noticed the nurse was calm, which was incongrous to her surrounding atmosphere, just one metre away several dead and injured people lay nearby."
A week after the blast that left 6,000 people injured and made an estimated 300,000 people temporarily homeless, many stories of heroism are starting to surface, and one of them is that of nurse Pamela Zaynoun.
Zaynoun, who was knocked out by the blast while working in the maternity unit of one of the city's main hospitals, told Sky News Arabia she could not escape alone and leave the three babies to face their fate alone.
"First we heard a sound then the explosion happened, I was knocked down unconscious, and when I woke up, the whole place was destroyed."
She added: "The first thing that came to my mind was the newborn triplets; I ran to the nursery, found the three incubators under the rubble but not broken, the babies were safe inside."
Zaynoun started removing rubble and metal rods that fell from the ceiling till she reached the babbies. "I immediately carried them, I was terrified because the incubators were covered with glass and blood, but the voices of the babies crying reassured me. People were trying to also open for us to leave, they opened a small hole that we left through it.”
"My only concern was to protect the babies and get them to a safe place, I went down four floors carrying the three babies with no electricity, I was scared one of them would slip from between my arms, especially that I was shacking from fear and trauma."
When Zaynoun reached the street, she started running towards the nearest hospital she could think of and people started taking off their clothes and covering the babies as she ran across destruction. "Their faces were towards me, I didnt know if they were still breathing when we reached the street. I took a glimpse they were still breathing and their colour was still okay, but they were cold, I asked people to help me cover them"
Not everyone in the hospital was so lucky. George Saad, emergency preparedness and disaster manager for the hospital, told CNN that 12 patients, two visitors and four nurses died in the incident, while two remain in critical condition. Some 80 per cent of the hospital had been damaged, along with 50 per cent of its equipment, he said.
A week later she said: "Those babies are now part of me, I want to live and be part of their day to day life."
The mother of Ali, Seedra and Zahraa welcomed nurse Pamela to her house this week with tearful eyes.
The mother gave birth to the triplets after three years of trying to conceive, and she said in an interview with Hadi Production: "I was home when we heard the explosion (she was discharged before the triplets) my heart was ripped, and me and my husband headed quickly to the hospital to check on our babies."
"There was destruction and blood every where when we reached, seeing this I was certain my babies didn't make it and I collapsed. But my husband and brother headed up, then came down with the babies' pacifiers. My husband told me look they have no blood on them meaning they are alive and fine."
The parents met a nurse who told them that their babies were fine and with Zaynoun.
The mother of the infants said: "Pamela is a heroine, I still cant beleive what they went through."
The explosion at the port caused much damage in Beirut. It killed more than 150 human beings and injured 6,000.