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National Disaster In Lebanon: 2750 Tons Of Chemical Substances Detonated In 6 Years, Nearly 4,000 Casualties

Aug 06, 2020

A serious explosion in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, shocked the world.

At around 18:00 on August 4, local time, two huge explosions occurred in the port of Beirut. A video posted on social media showed that after the first explosion, smoke billowed over the port. Just a few seconds later, the second explosion sounded and a white mushroom cloud appeared over the port.

Russian media RT described the scene in this way, "The explosion sent a huge mushroom cloud and debris into the sky."

The Lebanese Minister of Health told Reuters that the death toll from the explosion had risen to 78 and nearly 4,000 were injured.

"Hiroshima-Nagasaki-style national disaster"

The shock wave of the explosion caused serious damage to the surrounding buildings. A driving recorder also took pictures of the scene. The sky was shrouded in dust and dense smoke covered the sunset. The explosion site was in a mess, with rubble all over the street. The wounded were bloodied all over, and there were videos on social media exclaiming that this was the end of the world.

CNN quoted a statement from the European Mediterranean Seismic Center that the earthquake was felt in Cyprus 240 kilometers from Beirut's explosion site, and houses 6 miles (about 9.65 kilometers) away from the explosion site were destroyed.

At present, the leader of the Lebanese Phalange Party was killed in the explosion. The wife and daughter of Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab were injured. The staff of the German Embassy were also injured in the explosion.

According to the statement of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), a ship of the United Nations force was damaged by an explosion, and several members of the force were injured, some in serious injuries. The statement said: "Due to the large-scale explosion in Beirut, a UNIFIL navy ship anchored in the port was damaged, many peacekeepers were injured, and some were seriously injured."

Due to the heavy casualties, Beirut Mayor Abu choked and wept when speaking at the scene. He compared the accident to a "Hiroshima-Nagasaki-style national disaster."

After Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab inspected the explosion site, he immediately declared that August 5 was a national day of mourning, and various agencies were closed for three days. In addition, the local government transferred the responsibility of maintaining public order to the military authorities.

Lebanese Interior Minister Fahmi told Al Jazeera on the 5th that the cause of the explosion may have been caused by the chemical ammonium nitrate stored in the port warehouse.

However, the Lebanese National News Agency initially reported that a fireworks warehouse near the port caused an explosion. But the Lebanese General Security Directorate later stated that the explosion was caused by "highly explosive materials" previously confiscated by the government.

The Prime Minister of Lebanon later admitted that a batch of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate had been stored in a port warehouse for 6 years and had not taken effective preventive measures.

The port of Beirut is one of the largest and busiest ports on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. The port spans 0.8 kilometers and nearly 3,000 ships pass through each year. Together with Beirut Airport, it is the main entry point for Lebanon.

The Beirut Port Authority had a 30-year lease until the end of March 1990. The port is currently owned by the Lebanese government, but it is managed by an ad hoc committee composed of seven people from religious and political groups.

Since the end of the Lebanese Civil War in 1990, the port of Beirut has undergone a major expansion, and now has 4 harbour basins (the waters in front of the docks for ship berthing and loading and unloading operations), 16 docks, 12 warehouses and a grocery silo.

The US "Newsweek" quoted the official website of Beirut Port as saying that the port has a warehouse to store "dangerous goods." Outsiders suspect that this may be the place where highly explosive materials are stored.

At present, the Lebanese authorities tend to treat the explosion as an accident rather than deliberately.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun issued a statement on Twitter saying that it is "unacceptable" to store so much ammonium nitrate in the port for 6 years without taking protective measures. He vowed to "impose on the person responsible for the accident" The most severe punishment".

Earlier, both Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah denied any involvement in the incident. The Israeli military also stated that “it’s time to transcend the conflict” and stated that it will provide humanitarian and medical assistance to Lebanon.

The Minister of Health of Lebanon has said that in addition to the current statistics of nearly 4,000 casualties, there are still many missing persons, but due to power outages, night searches are very difficult. He added that the country is facing a real disaster and the government needs time to assess the extent of the damage.

The sudden bombing has already overcrowded the emergency department of the local hospital and the medical system is almost impossible to support. The Supreme National Defense Council of Lebanon has declared Beirut to be a disaster-stricken city.

For Lebanon, the explosion is "misfortune never comes singly".

At this time, the new crown epidemic is still spreading in Lebanon, causing losses to Lebanon's economy, resulting in high unemployment, and social conflicts in the country have become more prominent. According to the website of the Chinese Embassy in Lebanon, China has provided Lebanon with more than 1.2 million masks, 20,000 sets of protective clothing, 3,000 nucleic acid testing reagents, 3,000 pairs of goggles, and more than 10 thermometers.

At the same time, the situation in Lebanon has been quite tense recently. There are three main forces in Lebanon: the current President Michel Aoun representing the Christian left, the former prime minister Hariri family representing the Sunni forces, and the Lebanese Hezbollah representing the interests of the Shiites. They stand on three legs, fight endlessly, and often trigger regional conflicts.

At the end of July, the pro-Iranian Shiite Hezbollah and Israeli forces clashed on the border between Lebanon and Israel. In addition, the United Nations-backed tribunal plans to issue a verdict on the death of Rafik Hariri, the former Prime Minister of Lebanon in 2005, this week.

"Foreign Policy" stated that the current Lebanese "have lost even the ability to dream of a better tomorrow."

The US "Foreign Policy" also recently stated that the turmoil, assassinations, occupation and economic fragility that Lebanon has experienced over the past few decades are not as bad as the situation that the country is currently experiencing. The current Lebanese "even lost their dream of tomorrow." Better capabilities".

Coupled with this serious explosion, the situation in Lebanon has become more chaotic.

At present, the explosion has aroused great international attention. Russian President Putin expressed condolences to the Lebanese President for the casualties and destruction caused by the explosion. Egyptian President Sisi also issued a statement expressing condolences and sympathy. Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif stated that Iran stands ready to provide Lebanon with any necessary assistance.

At the White House press conference on the morning of the 5th, US President Trump also expressed his "deepest sympathy" to the Lebanese people. Although the Lebanese government has not confirmed the specific cause of the explosion, Trump believes that the Beirut explosion was a "horrible attack."

When a reporter asked how Trump came to this conclusion, Trump said, "It looks like an explosion... I met some of our great generals and they seemed to think it was an (attack).