Beirut Explosion Tragedy - Biggest Disaster in Beirut Lebanese

A crater, the size of 124-meter diameter, has been created because of the explosion, which can be seen through satellite images. The casualties have left 135 dead and 5000 injured with some in critical condition, which may cause the death toll to rise.[Beirut Explosion Tragedy]...Continue Reading

Beirut Explosion Tragedy - Biggest Disaster in Beirut Lebanese
Beirut Explosion Tragedy - Biggest Disaster in Beirut Lebanese

Beirut Explosion Tragedy - Biggest Disaster in Beirut Lebanese 

An explosion that rocked the city of Beirut, the Lebanese capital, claimed 135 lives, leaves thousands injured from its impact. The enormity of the blast has the entire country into a disaster like situation. However, help is pouring in from different countries to offer assistance, while a probe is launched to find the reason for the blast.

Authorities are trying hard to find survivors and taking wounded for treatment. There is still not an exact figure to tell the exact extent of damage caused by the blast.

The blast took place on Beirut’s port in the central district, which has a fairly large population. It is also known to be a tourist area. The popularity is because of landmarks such as the Martyr’s square, the Gemmayzeh, and Mer Mikhael neighborhoods, Grand Serail, Baabda Palace, Mohamad Al-Amin mosque and the president’s official residence drew crowds.

The disaster caused by the blast

The explosion ripped through the city, causing immense devastation as cars flipped and shattered glass everywhere, homes crumbled, and many buildings damaged by the impact. Which included the headquarters of the former prime minister Saad Hariri. Homes that were within the ten-kilometer radius have been ravaged as per witnesses. Most of the hotels in Beirut have been damaged. The blast has been felt as far as Cyprus. It felt like an earthquake of 3.3 magnitudes.

A crater, the size of 124-meter diameter, has been created because of the explosion, which can be seen through satellite images. The casualties have left 135 dead and 5000 injured with some in critical condition, which may cause the death toll to rise. Since the damage is extensive and several homes being unlivable, people are afraid to stay in their own homes at the fear of them crumbling down. Several others have been rendered homeless. People who have survived are trying to search for their loved ones under the debris.

Some of the people who have died in the explosion and have been identified are the secretary-general of the Kataeb political party Nazr Najarian. Ten firefighters are missing, and two Filipino died with eleven others missing, One American and Australian have lost their lives. The injured foreigners are twenty-one French, several Americans, one Japanese, one Indonesian, and six Turkish citizens were caught in the blast. Some of the UN naval peacekeepers interim force have been injured. With many more missing and search going on for those people who might be still fighting a chance.

The Governor of Beirut has told reporters that an estimated amount of US $5 billion damage has been caused.

Causes for the blast

Initially, the blast was blamed on a warehouse of firecrackers. Later it was confirmed by the prime minister Hassan Diab that 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate had been stored at the  Beirut port. Though being a highly explosive material without any safety measures in place was the cause for the massive blast.

Findings by reporters show that the nitrate was from a Russian ship that was traveling to Mozambique in 2013. The ship was abandoned due to financial constraints in Beirut. The authorities in Beruit detained the cargo and stored the hanger at the port. The port happens to be situated near shopping and nightlife districts.

 The Lebanese customs officer Badri Daher had, for years, warned of the impending danger of storing ammonium nitrate at the port. He had warned the legal authorities almost six times and advised them to get the dangerous cargo out of the port, but none of it was heeded. He has now asked for the investigation so that revelations be announced of how the cargo had continued to be on the port since 2014.

Experts are also looking into other angles for the blast apart from ammonium nitrate. One of the explosives investigators from the US government after studying the images has said the color of the cloud after the explosion suggests other compounds might have also contributed to the explosion. Another CIA operative who has immense expertise in the middle east that the orange ball of fire points to military-grade explosive. At the same time, the US president Trump has termed it as an attack that is being now refuted by the US defense department.

How ammonium nitrate caused the blast

As per the chemical analysis, a compound of ammonia and nitrogen is a highly volatile material. It is generally used in agricultural fertilizers and making bombs. Disasters have rarely occurred with ammonium nitrate as it is used the world over, with the US being the leading user of ammonium nitrate with millions of tons used in fertilizers. The pure solid form of ammonium nitrate is said to be stable, but any form contaminants, even in small traces, can cause detonation. Hence strict enforcement of policies for storing and treating ammonium nitrates is mandatory.

The need to store ammonium nitrate properly is vital. There are information other materials that were stored in close vicinity to the container of ammonium nitrate may also have triggered the explosion. However, investigators are trying to get hold of various theories that might prove true for the cause of the blast.

Ammonium nitrate, when stored with fuel or organics materials, chlorides, metals, is potentially dangerous because all of them are contaminants. There have to be resistant walls in the storage unit where ammonium nitrate is stored, ensuring that non-combustible flooring is done, and temperatures are controlled crucially. The need to monitor temperature is because ammonium nitrate, when exposed to heat, can melt without burning. The melt happens with toxic gases being released in the air, which is combustible in nature.

If there happens to be an enormous supply of ammonium nitrate, the melt will not only explode but set off the entire quantity together.

The rescue efforts underway

Hours after the blast authorities are still in search of survivors and searching for the missing people with humanitarian organizations. The entire Lebanese army has been directed by the president to respond to the explosion and provide security to the affected areas. A sum of 100 billion Lebanese pounds has been allocated to deal with the blast effects.

Help from UNICEF and Red Cross have brought forth their teams at Beruit and called for urgent blood donations. Hospitals are inundated by the number of causalities that coming in by the minute. In some hospitals, there wasn’t room for any more patients. Some of the hospitals were unable to provide service as the blast damaged them.

The Red Cross has managed to set up multiple temporary shelters and provide food and hygiene kits to the people and help them tend to basic needs for 1000 families. Other organizations are working with Lebanese authorities. Several countries have extended their help, including Australia and America. Russia has sent five planes carrying medical equipment along with a team of doctors to set up a field hospital and treat the injured in Beruit. France has sent rescue and aid along with Israel providing medical assistance. The United Kingdome not only has sent medical, search and rescue teams but given monetary help as well.

More than 300, 000 civilians are homeless, and Beirut has been declared a disaster city.

Knowing Beirut

Beirut is one of the biggest cities in Lebanon and is the capital. It had a sizable population of two million people—a city with one side overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and on the other the Lebanon Mountains. It had the best weather throughout the year with beautiful views and experiences for tourists. They flocked to see the rocky beaches and sandy shores as well as experience the diverse culture and tradition of the place due to its influence on so many civilizations.

The blend of several rulers on the land has made it diverse and rich, with the cultural heritage steeped with different customs and traditions that unique to the country. Nine different religious communities live harmoniously together. It can be seen in their art and architecture, which is a big draw for tourists. The landscape is varied and interesting for people to explore and check, and Beirut has been a cultural hub for centuries.

But the destruction Lebanese civil war, which went for decades, had brought down a lot in terms of economy. Though the city was thriving again, the recession and corruption hit the progress, and with the COVID-19 crisis was a big blow to the reeling financial state. The explosion of Ammonium nitrate has posed an inevitable question over the looming crisis the nation will have to face.

With the backdrop of long-standing political unrest in Lebanon and economic crisis that followed it, corruption rating among the elite, high unemployment ratios, basic amenities not being met for the marginalized, and prices rising. It would be a tough call for Lebanon in the coming days.

Another disaster caused by the explosion was the grain silos which contained wheat and cereals has been wiped out, the country now will be looking at a possible famine as well. Lebanon is a country that imports almost everything. The explosion has caused significant difficulty in getting access to medical supplies and food.

The port of Beirut is an important route for supply for the entire country, which now has been devastated due to the blast, and for it rebuilt and got back to its feet will take time. Till then, the economics of the place of place will take a beating. The port would take the burden of 60% of the entire 80% imports of the food supply that comes into the country. Lebanon has to sustain through imports as it cannot produce enough for its own people since the civil war and colonial empires privatizing access to the country.

How the uprising of 2019 is now being justified

The people were disgruntled and had been protesting against the ruling class from the year 2019. The recent explosion justified their dissatisfaction at how things are being managed with the level of corruption and mismanagement in handling situations plaguing the country for so long. The negligence has made them pay a heavy price. However, the brunt was more borne by the innocent civilians who hadn’t an inkling about the ammonium nitrate being stored so near populated places without any safety measures in place. This catastrophe was bound to happen and is a volatile substance. It could have been any day a blast would result in the apathy of the authorities.

The Lebanese are not trusting the ruling class with the funds that the international community is sending to help the country in this time of disaster. Ever since the COVID-19 crisis, the people haven’t been able to withdraw their own money from the banks because the banks have closed doors due to the pandemic. The current leadership has utilised the people’s money, and the wire transfer has happened outside the country.

The plea is being sent out to the donors for a direct donation to the hospitals, local NGOs, and Lebanese Red cross. So that food, basic medical supplies, and other amenities reach directly to the people and not get into the hands of the corrupt who have embezzled public funds. The welfare has never reached the needy, and the immense humanitarian effort taken by the international community should not go to waste. The people of Lebanon need support because a day after the blast, only citizen volunteers came forward to help the people.

A lot of experts on the Arab world have come out and to voice their options on how the politically corrupt have ruined the country from the past 30 years. The presence of highly explosive material was known to various levels in the leadership, yet nothing was done. If a proper investigation has to take place, there would be evidence incriminating both high mighty for negligence and the loss of so many innocent lives.

The Lebanese people themselves have come together in this time of calamity to help each other out. They are displaying a perfect example of survival instincts and trying to be there for each other.