Moments after a massive suicide bomb ripped through Kabul’s diplomatic quarter on Wednesday, two local journalists rushed through the clouds of black smoke and burning cars to document the devastation on video before first responders arrived on the scene.
Blood trickled down the face of 1TV Afghanistan’s Sohail Sediqi as he spoke into his phone camera: “We have come here to help, but there is no one else, not even the police to help.”
“Look, there is no one to help. Everyone has fled the area,” said Sediqi, surrounded by the dust and debris and bodies of the dead.
The bomb, which went off during rush hour on Wednesday, killed at least 90 people and wounded 400, according to Afghanistan’s Government Media Information Center.
The blast, which came just a few days into the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, is one of the deadliest to hit the war-weary Afghan capital in recent years.
The streets were packed with commuters, women shopping and children going to school.
The studios of 1TV Afghanistan, only around 100 meters away from the site of the explosion, were all but destroyed. Windows fell from the walls, doors came off the frames and much of the equipment was badly damaged.
It was left in such bad shape that “you would have thought the explosion happened inside the office,” the station’s owner, Fahim Hashimy, told CNN.
Still, the station remained on air. “It was a bit of a miracle to be honest,” Hashimy said.
The station is no stranger to security situations, having been previously threatened by the Taliban, according to Hashimy.
Within an hour and a half, the team improvised a set out of the damage in its studio, and they broadcast their first news program since the blast. It included footage gathered by Sediqi from Kabul’s ground zero.
“If we didn’t go on air with the news then the Islamic State, or whoever did it, would be very happy,” Hashimy said.
By Wednesday evening, no group had claimed responsibility for the attack.