Lebanon is under major crisis following a massive explosion at a warehouse by the port Tuesday evening. Recent reports said that at least a hundred people were pronounced dead and more than 4,000 people are injured.
“It is a catastrophe, I’ve never seen something like that.”— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) August 5, 2020
Lebanon is in a state of emergency following a massive explosion in Beirut that killed at least 100 people and injured thousands.
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After the first blast, it was only seconds before an enormous shock wave rippled through from the explosion site. Estimated range of the wave was around 10 kilometers or 6 miles from the root of the blast. The explosion was even felt all the way to Cyprus that is 240 kilometers away and was registered as a 3.3 magnitude earthquake.
Initial speculations revolve around the negligence of Lebanese authorities to retrieve the ammonium nitrate from the said warehouse and transport the material to a safer storage where it would not pose a big risk to health and safety. The national customs apparently had confiscated almost 3,000 tons of the substance off the port of Beirut six years ago, and ceaselessly issued multiple warnings and memos to the local authorities to dispose of it appropriately.
The government of Lebanon has officially declared a state of emergency for two weeks to allow time for investigations and recovery. Damages are estimated to be worth between 3 to 5 billion dollars.
Ammonium nitrate is a synthetic industrial fertilizer as much as it is a key ingredient in making mining explosives. If the substance is improperly stored, it begins to decay over time by clumping into a solid rock-like composition. The larger and harder the material, the stronger the explosion.
The chemical releases an enormous amount of toxic gases such as ammonia and nitrogen oxides that are harmful to the body. The gaseous particles of ammonia, firstly, can burn the tissues in the airway that eventually result to more severe respiratory tract damage. Similar effects are also exerted by nitrogen oxides.
Since the news erupted, the US, Britain, Brazil, and Australia has pledged financial and other forms of assistance to Lebanon. Other Lebanese citizens that weren't affected by the explosion opened their homes and offered temporary refuge to the victims. The local government also released funding to manage the crisis. France will also assist in the ongoing rescue process. Iran is also sending medical aid. The government has also decided to place the on-duty port officers under house arrest.
The tragedy has trended globally and many have stood with Lebanon as one, offering prayers and wishes of well-being.