Massive explosion shakes Lebanon’s capital

| August 4, 2020

Smoke rises after an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020, in this picture obtained from a social media video.

Two large explosions rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut Tuesday evening local time, shattering windows in surrounding neighborhoods, destroying nearby buildings and wounding thousands of people. At least 50 people have been killed and more than 3,000 injured, Lebanese Health Minister Hassan Hamad told local media.

Residents have posted graphic photos and videos to social media showing a mushroom-like cloud and enormous smoke plumes rising above the city from Beirut’s port area. While the first explosion appears to have come from a warehouse at the port, the cause of the blasts are not yet clear, and no one has claimed responsibility.

ChipNASA sends.

Beirut blast: at least 60 dead, thousands injured

The blast shattered windows and sent thick smoke billowing from the city center

By Danielle Wallace, Bradford Betz

massive explosion shook Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 60 people and injuring thousands of others while flattening much of the port, damaging buildings across the capital, and sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky.

The cause of the explosion remains unclear. The Lebanese Red Cross tweeted that more than 30 teams were responding to the scene of the blast via ambulances.

The health minister said at least 60 people were killed and over 3,000 were injured.

Lebanese Red Cross official Georges Kettaneh said the injured were being taken to hospitals outside the capital because facilities there were at capacity. He put the number of casualties in the hundreds but said he did not have exact figures on dead or injured.

Abbas Ibrahim, chief of Lebanese General Security, said the explosion might have been caused by highly explosive material that was confiscated from a ship some time ago and stored at the port. Local television channel LBC said the material was sodium nitrate.

The blast was stunning even for a city that has seen civil war, suicide bombings and bombardment by Israel. It could be heard and felt as far away as Cyprus, more than 180 miles across the Mediterranean.

“It was a real horror show. I haven’t seen anything like that since the days of the (civil) war,” said Marwan Ramadan, who was about 550 yards from the port and was knocked off his feet by the force of the explosion.

Read the rest here:

Thanks, Chip.

Category: Beirut, Guest Post, International Affairs

Comments (56)

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  1. KoB says:

    Ooopsie! Don’t think this was a fireworks warehouse, Lucy.

  2. ChipNASA says:

    I don know whether to be sad or not.
    I mean, maybe I’ll want and see what Dave Hardin has to say before I start dancing around. I mean innocent people could have been killed. Although it *is* Beirut, after all..

  3. ChipNASA says:

    Excuse the typos, on my phone 😜

  4. 26Limabeans says:

    That was quite a shock wave.
    I doubt it was black powder.

  5. FuzeVT says:

    More Islamic intramural competition. They bitch about the “Great Satan” and all we do to them but they do a fine job of killing each other by themselves.

  6. Graybeard says:

    One report suggested nitrate fertilizer that had been impounded.

    Similar to what happened in the town of West, in Texas.

  7. Blaster says:

    Are there radical Amish in Lebanon?

  8. Been done in past incidents when products were in metal storage containers for long periods of time in the heat and when the enclosed product degrades, there is a buildup of heat causing spontanious combustion and fire would impinge on other containers which would most likely cause an explosion for container stored munitions. Happened in Syria (2013) from contraband munitions that were supposed to be moved but sat around for a year or two. The 1947 Texas City explosion had ammonia nitrate on board the ship and I believe the members were trying to use LLoyd Laymans theory of the indirect fire attack which uses water spray (fog) in an enclosed space which causes steam to smother the fire. Doesn’t work with this type of product. The 2013 West, Texas explosion had the same product where 15 lives were lost. Trump was on the news saying that his Mil aides were already guessing on the cause. An investigation should tell what the cause was.

  9. Sparks says:

    I don’t think we should store that stuff inside town limits, but that’s just me. Probably right next to the baby milk factory too. That always happens.

  10. Commissar says:

    My money is on the ammonium nitrate storage theory. A massive wheelhouses filled to the brim next to an accidental fireworks fire.

    A crazy series of ineptitude, poor port management, and terrible misfortune.

  11. Sapper3307 says:

    That’s a lot of sparklers.

  12. Sapper3307 says:

    Looked like a low (but large) velocity explosion, TNT or slower (RE 1.0 or lower).

    • Hate_me says:

      Concur. Given the color, ammonium nitrate seems right (RE is somewhere around .4, I think? Been a while).

    • Graybeard says:

      I’m glad y’all know what you’re saying/seeing.

      But with your MOS, I’d expect that.

  13. CCO says:

    And the explosion knocked the grain silos; they lost their wheat supply or a lot of it.

    Does that dark brown color tell us anything about what exploded in the second explosion?

    • Sapper3307 says:

      Its called a dust initiator charge.
      Or dropping a match in a silo.

      • The dust has to be in suspension, woodworking shops vacumm the dust particles so they are not in suspension and reach an ignition source. Years ago, the best way to get rid of flies in your kitchen was to load some flour in a rolled up newspaper page and spin it around up into the air then ignite it but people had to be very careful. Lots of burns back then. I used to demonstrate that method to get a very small scale dust explosion while I did basic in house Probie training at the Fire house.

        • 26Limabeans says:

          Bug bombs in the basement with the water heater and
          well pump not disabled makes a big bang.
          Happened in my town a few years ago.
          Lifted the small house off the foundation.

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        Dust in a grain elevator doesn’t have to be in suspension. Just stir the grain up a bit, as in loading into or unloading from the silo and you can easily get a Big BOOOM!! without any ignition source other than static electricity generated by the loading/unloading.

        I’ve seen grain elevator fires that would scare the hair off a cat caused by nothing other than grain dust and static electricity.

  14. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    Is Hamas having a little problem with the proper storage and handling of volatile materials?

    • Hack Stone says:

      Another round of mandatory safety stand downs. Hack Stone bets his software paycheck that the investigation will show that someone was not wearing their reflective PT belt.

  15. CCO says:

    And the explosion knocked the grain silos; they lost their wheat supply or a lot of it. See

    Does that dark brown color tell us anything about what exploded in the second explosion?

  16. A Terminal Lance Coolie says:

    Saw a BBC post saying it was 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate that exploded.

    Math says thats roughly 5000 tons of TNT.

    They effectively detonated a small tactical nuke in their port.

    I’ve got money on piss poor storage and disposal procedures compounded by ‘rona affecting the workforce being the cause of this. Considering where its at, I’m honestly surprised this didn’t happen sooner.

  17. OldManchu says:

    I bet there will be long lines for weeks at the Aloha Snackbar!

  18. I forgot to add in on my Beirut explosion comment that the Ammonia Nitrate that was stored at the site in Syria was more than what was allowed that what was stored next to the munitions.

  19. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    One source said that there was about 2,750 tons of Ammonium Nitrate left sitting unsecured. I also heard rumor that Achmed and Hussein were told that there was NO SMOKING on the job in that warehouse, but did they listen?

  20. Ex Coelis says:

    Read on BBC that the explosion may have been caused by approx 2,700 tons Ammonium Nitrate improperly stored near fuel oil. Have to admit, when I first saw incidental footage of this port explosion, initially it did almost look like a small nuclear detonation but the after-blast smoke was far too black – reminded me of the home-ex detonations I saw in Afghan and Iraq…

    • 26Limabeans says:

      “Ammonium Nitrate improperly stored near fuel oil”

      Somewhere in the hottest parts of Hell, McVeigh
      manages a sinister smirk.

    • Hondo says:

      The industrial accident (stored AN catches fire and later explodes) scenario appears a possible explanation. The fact that it was being stored near fuel oil adds credence to that theory, though the fuel oil may or may not have been involved in the initial fire.

      There’s also historical precedent. A similar thing caused the Texas City disaster in 1947. In that incident, about 2300 tons of AN were loaded on a ship in the harbor caught fire and subsequently exploded. (The fire’s origin has never been definitively determined.) A second ship nearby was damaged but survived the initial blast; however, its cargo included around 960 tons of AN that was ignited by the blast and later also exploded.

      The first ships anchor, weighing around 2 tons, was found more than 1.6 miles away; its 5 ton main anchor was found 1/2 mile away from the blast site. Most of one of the propellers from the second ship that exploded were found about a mile inland.

  21. Ex Coelis says:

    One of the Twitter photos shows the resulting blast-crater beside what’s left of the dock’s grain silos – given to the crater’s approx size – does seem to indicate a conventional one kilo ton explosion,

  22. Sapper3307 says:

    Send OSHA?

  23. Hondo says:

    From the site Ex Coelis linked above, this is pretty good video of the explosion. It seems to have been taken from a building on relatively high ground overlooking the port, or maybe from the upper floors of a very tall building.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      That “building” next to the explosion site is a grain elevator. Looks exactly like what you see in the Midwest out in the farmlands. The grain elevators are extremely strong buildings, so it’s a wonder it was not ruptured and didn’t explode along with the nitrate dump.

  24. Ex Coelis says:

    Second video down is positively heart-rending. At that apparent range(distance to subject), it’s incredible the photographer survived!!

  25. Martinjmpr says:

    Stunningly inept bureaucratic incompetence at work.

    The AN has been at the port SINCE 2014! Yes, it’s been sitting there for 6 years while bureaucrats and businessmen point fingers at each other and say “it’s not my problem.”

    Well, it’s your problem now, numb nuts.

    Seems to me someone at the port should have made a command decision to load the AN back into the ship, take it out to sea and dump it there (or failing that, just scuttle the ship in a deep part of the ocean.)

    Apparently the ship’s owner bailed and wanted nothing to do with either the ship or the cargo.

  26. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    Here’s some drone video of what’s left:

  27. Deckie says:

    Same stuff I believe the SS Grandcamp was loaded with when she exploded in Texas City in April 1947. Set off a chain reaction of explosions that rocked the port and killed many people. Scary stuff.