Lebanon Explosion



Wreckage from the explosion at the port in Beirut on Tuesday. Credit…Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

Holley Law, staff writer

A powerful blast in port warehouses near central Beirut storing highly explosive material that caused damage within a 12-mile radius was heard from 100 miles away. The explosion killed more than 100 people and injured 5,000 more. There are dozens that are still missing. The explosion generated a magnitude 3.3 earthquake.   

Authorities say that the explosion was caused by a welding accident that lit fireworks which then lit off 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, which is a highly explosive compound that is used commonly in fertilizers and bombs. This chemical was used in various explosions in the past. A Russian ship that was abandoned in the Beirut port is where the chemical came from and it was stored in one of the port’s warehouses, without any safety precautions.

The blast was strong enough to collapse buildings, some of the videos of the port after the explosion show only twisted metal and chunks of concrete where one of the warehouses once stood. Cars were overturned, glass on balconies and windows were destroyed, roofs were collapsed.

 A hospital that was in the area of the blast had to start turning away patients and transferring patients to other hospitals, later the hospital had floors collapse in the building. One medic said 200 to 300 people had been admitted to a single emergency department. “I’ve never seen this. It was horrible,” Public Health Minister Hamad Hassan announced that his ministry would cover all costs of treating the wounded at hospitals, even hospitals that did not have contracts with the ministry would be covered as well, the National News Agency reported.

The port was how the country got 60% of their total imports and now hundreds of thousands are left without food, fuel, and medicine, for most of the country’s medicine was in the post on high shelves within the warehouses. More than 300,000 people have been displaced from their homes. Residents say that explosions stir up memories of a civil war that ended in the 1990’s.