Explosion in Lebanon


Courtesy of BBC news

Sam Frederick Conson

Beirut blast: Lebanon is in mourning after a massive explosion kills dozens and injures thousands. On 4 August 2020, a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the port of the city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, exploded, causing at least 203 deaths, 6,500 injuries, and US$15 billion in property damage, and leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless.

A cargo of 2,750 tons of the substance (equivalent to around 1.1 kilotons of TNT) had been stored in a warehouse without proper safety measures for the previous six years, after having been confiscated by the Lebanese authorities from the abandoned ship MV Rhosus. The explosion was preceded by a fire in the same warehouse.

An Associated Press photographer near Beirut’s port witnessed people wounded on the ground and widespread destruction in central Beirut. Videos taken by residents showed a fire raging at the port, sending up a giant column of smoke, illuminated by flashes of what appear to be fireworks. Local TV stations reported that a fireworks warehouse was involved. The fire then appeared to catch a nearby building, triggering a more massive explosion, sending up a mushroom cloud and a shock wave over the city.

“It was like a nuclear explosion,” said Walid Abdo, a 43-year-old school teacher in the neighborhood of Gemayzeh near Beirut. The explosion overturned cars and stripped steel-framed buildings of their cladding. Within the port area, the explosion destroyed a section of shoreline and left a crater roughly 124 m (407 ft) in diameter and 43 m (141 ft) in depth. Homes as far as 10 kilometers (6 miles) away were damaged by the blast, and up to 300,000 people were left homeless by the explosion. As per www.sciencemag.org, ‘Absolutely horrendous.’ Scientists discuss Beirut’s blast and how they are coping with its aftermath.

As per npr.org, “No words can describe the horror of the disaster that has hit Beirut, turning it to a disaster-stricken city,” Lebanese President Michel Aoun said.