After the explosion of 3 tons of ammonium nitrate in the port of the Lebanese capital Beirut, the city and the whole country are in a state of shock (video here and here). 100 people died, 4 thousand were injured of varying severity, as if the number of those buried under the ruins is not known. The extent of the disaster became clear this morning, when the search teams began to dismantle the rubble in search of the living and the dead, the city's hospitals are overflowing with thousands of wounded, and doctors have been providing first aid to the injured for 24 hours (click here). Smoke is still rising in the port, overturned cars are lying on the streets of the districts adjacent to the port, and buildings are in ruins.
Lebanese Red Cross chief George Kettana told local television: “We are witnessing a terrible disaster. There are victims and wounded in all parts of the city".
All night long, ambulances drove around the city, going round the mountains of glass that fell on the roadway from houses. Soldiers scavenge the ruins, and helicopters dump water over the smoking ruins.
Only a giant crater remained from the port (video here).
In hospitals, thousands of wounded people are waiting for their turn. On the Internet, relatives post lists of missing persons and from photographs, begging those who saw someone to let them know.
The country's president declared a state of emergency for two weeks after authorities admitted that an ammonium nitrate warehouse had exploded. The shockwave from the explosion swept across the city, shattering windows, demolishing rooftops, and breaking houses making them uninhabitable.
After the shock, a second wave hit the country's political class - a wave of popular anger. People accuse politicians of corruption, lack of principle and inability to take real action. Their ratings were already at historic lows due to their inability to cope with the coronavirus. “I’ll be surprised if any of them take responsibility”, - says the Guardian store clerk. “But I argue in my life that someone's commercial interests are connected with this explosion, but this someone will come out dry out of the water, and again there will be a switchman".
President Michel Aoun has allocated 100 trillion lira (about $ 60 million) from emergency funds. Three days of mourning has been declared in Beirut.
The port, or rather what is left of it, is cordoned off by soldiers. “It's a disaster inside the cordon,” says one soldier. - "The bodies of the dead lie right on the ground". (live video here)
President Aoun said that saltpeter has been stored in the port for six years.
Spiegel writes that smoke appeared over the port of Beirut on Tuesday evening, and small explosions were heard. Many people started filming the fire with their phones, so when the explosion came at 6 pm, many filmed it. A fireball rose into the sky, a shock wave swept behind it, destroying everything within a radius of several kilometers, understanding cars and people in the air. (Here) The explosion was so powerful that it was heard in Cyprus, located 160 kilometers from the Lebanese capital.
The port is located one and a half kilometers from the city center, but even at a distance of 10 kilometers from the explosion, windows flew out in houses. Over 2 million people live in the 5 km zone in Beirut. Many houses were completely destroyed near the port.
Ammonium nitrate is used both for the production of explosives and fertilizers. In 2013, the Lebanese authorities detained a ship carrying saltpeter from Georgia to Mozambique, according to press reports. The team ran out of food, diesel and money. The owner of the dry cargo ship did not buy it back. After the trial, the team was allowed to leave Lebanon, and the dangerous cargo was placed in one of the warehouses.
Saltpeter is explosive, especially at high temperatures. In recent years, there have been several incidents resulting in human casualties. So, in 2015, in the Chinese Tianjin, as a result of a series of explosion, 173 people were killed.
The economic situation in Lebanon is extremely difficult. Since the beginning of the year, the Lebanese lira has depreciated by 85%, half of the country's population lives below the poverty line, even according to government data. Even before the August 4 disaster, the country needed $ 20 billion in financial assistance. Two years ago, the Paris Club promised to allocate $ 11 billion, but subject to reforms in the country. The reforms were not started, the donors kept the money.
Premier Diav appealed to everyone for help. France, Germany have already promised their support. Even Israel, which is in a state of military conflict with Lebanon, offered to help. A rare case - but both the United States and Iran have announced their intention to support Lebanon.
What exactly led to the explosion is not yet clear. President Trump suggested that it could have been a "bomb attack". A government meeting will take place in Beirut today. The prime minister has already promised to punish those responsible and start an investigation.