There was a massive explosion in the port of Beirut on Tuesday, 4th August 2020. The explosion have resulted in the deaths of more than 100 people and 4000 injured. Much of the cities ports have been affected and buildings have been damaged. Hospitals have been filled beyond capacity and hospital authorities are pleading for blood supplies and generators. The injured had to be taken to hospitals outside Beirut. Streets are filled with ambulances and vehicles carrying the wounded and injured. The explosion has devastated the country, which was already in the middle of a financial crisis along with the corona virus pandemic. The economic condition was terrible with about half of the people living below poverty line.
Witnesses reported a massive mushroom cloud going into the sky and red fumes coming out of the site. At first people saw white dense fumes being emitted, after few seconds the big explosion happened sending a big white mushroom cloud and brownish red fumes into the sky. Residents said that they were thrown off their feet onto the ground by the tremors of the explosion. Windows and doors of building have been shattered across the capital. Local media have shown people being stuck inside rubble, damaged cars on the road and broken buildings. The port of Beirut has been heavily damaged. According to Germany’s geo-sciences centre, tremors of about 3.5 magnitude earthquake were reported to be felt and it reached as far as Cyprus, which is about 200 kilometres across the Mediterranean.
President Michel Aoun and Lebanon officials have blamed a warehouse, storing 2750 tons of Ammonium nitrate unsafely, close to the port for the blast. The Ammonium nitrate, which is used as a fertilizer and as an explosive, was stored in the site for about 6 years and there was a lot of negligence regarding the removal of it all these years. It was brought in by a ship which arrived at Beirut in 2013 and it was not allowed to leave due to some dispute. Since then the confiscated Ammonium nitrate was stored in the warehouse. It has been reported that a fire had started in one of the warehouses and then it spread to the warehouse containing the Ammonium nitrate. The explosion site is close to the place where a car bombing happened in 2005 which killed the former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Army helicopters have helped in extinguishing the fires at the port. Emergency teams had started working. Red Cross has said that a search operation is working for finding over 100 missing people. Residents of Lebanon have reached the site and hospital and have started helping the injured. In a statement released by Unicef, it has been mentioned that their staff and their families have also been affected, some have been injured, others have had their homes damaged as a result of the explosion. Their child protection partners are providing psycho-social support to affected children and their families. Officials have informed that an investigation is being done to find out the exact reason behind the explosion and to know what had triggered the Ammonium nitrate. A number of port officials have also been kept under house arrest for the investigation. The future of the port is in danger as thousands of people have been left homeless in the middle of crisis. The President has declared 3 days of mourning and the government has declared 3 weeks of state emergency in the capital of Beirut. The Lebanon Prime Minister has requested for international assistance because there has been mass casualties and nearly half of the city has been damaged enormously.
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