Beirut blast: Dozens dead and thousands injured: Updated


A massive explosion shook through Lebanon's capital Beirut Tuesday. Lebanon's health ministry says the death / and injured toll from the Beirut explosion:

  • 137 dead, at least
  • 5,000 people injured
  • Hundreds have been reported missing
  • Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud said as many as 300,000 people had been made temporarily homeless and that the collective losses might reach $10-15 billion.

THE CAUSE

It is unclear what caused the initial explosion. But the second enormous deadly explosion was caused by about 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate (used in both fertilizer and explosives) that was being stored near the blast sight without safety measures. The explosive material had been there for 6 years unsecured, after being confiscated from a sinking ship.

  • Experts say that ammonium nitrate is relatively safe when stored properly. However, if you have a large amount of material lying around for a long time it begins to decay.

MV RHOSUS aka "The Floating Bomb"

New information is coming in about the Russian ship named MV Rhosus that has been docked in the city's port for nearly seven years without appropriate security precautions that officials warned was “a floating bomb.”

According to legal documents and Lebanese officials, The Washington Post reported -

  • MV Rhosus, carrying agricultural fertilizer with 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate and en route to Mozambique hit a financial snag and docked in the Beruit port in 2013. 

ARRESTS

Wednesday the Beirut government ordered the house arrest of port officials who knew about the thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate explosives stored at the port for six years without safety measures.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said the officials would face "the harshest punishment" if they are found responsible.

  • The blast was equivalent to around 3 kilotons of TNT, 20% the size of the nuclear bomb that destroyed Hiroshima
  • High Defense Council declares a two-week state of emergency
  • Secretary-general of the Kataeb Party Nizar Najarian reportedly killed
  • The explosion damaged buildings as far as six miles away and was felt on the neighboring island of Cyprus, which is about 150 miles away and registered as a 3.3 magnitude earthquake in the Lebanese capital.
  • Security alert due to the toxic fumes.

PERSPECTIVE

In 1995 the Oklahoma City bombers used approximately 2 Tons and destroyed 1 building, shattered another 286. That explosion killed 168 people.

  • The worst industrial accident in the U.S was in 1947 when a ship carrying ammonium nitrate caught fire and exploded in the harbor of Texas City, the explosive started a chain-reaction of blasts and fires killing 581 people.

Viral video shows the impact of the blast, with homes miles away ravaged and upscale shopping centers in the souk district completely wrecked.

For more on this tragic explosion in Beirut The Guardian HERE

Photo Credit: Getty Images


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