Abdulkadir Abdirahman, director of Mogadishu’s ambulance service, recounts the horrors he saw after a truck bomb blast that killed at least 276 people in the Somali capital.
He spoke to Al Jazeera’s Hamza Mohamed:
“It was a normal day. Very quiet and not much work to do. I was sitting behind my desk at work. Our office is about one kilometre from the scene of the explosion.
All of a sudden, I heard a very big blast. Everything shook. I have never heard anything that loud before. Within a few minutes, the sky was covered with very dark smoke that covered even the sunlight.
I picked up my phone and called the rest of the team. I did not need to tell what just happened because they all heard it. We all rushed in the direction of the billowing smoke.
Aamin ambulance service was established in 2008 and we have never seen such devastation. Not even in our dreams.
Everywhere you looked, there were dead bodies.
Everywhere you turned, there were wounded people crying for help.
I never imagined I will see such a scene.
Big buildings were completely destroyed. Buildings crumbled. Vehicles were burned and upside down. The tarmac was covered in flesh, blood and pieces of clothes.
Our country has never seen anything even close to this.
In one of the burned minibuses were young students coming from school, their charred remains tangled in what was left of the vehicle they were travelling in.
I will never forget that gruesome sight.
Our 10 ambulances were not enough to take all the injured and dead to hospital. The corpses were destroyed beyond recognition. You could not tell which corpse was a man and which was a woman.
Everyone in the city was trying to call their family members and friends to see if they were okay. This jammed the network and we in the ambulance service could not communicate with each other or the hospitals.
The hospitals were overwhelmed. They had no choice but to treat the injured in the hallways because everywhere else was full.
I saw people I used to see every day in the city among the dead.
Every home in Mogadishu has lost someone or know someone that was killed in the explosion.
The city is in mourning.”