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Port Blast Creates Havocs in Beirut City in Lebanon

Logistic News - Published on Wed, 05 Aug 2020

Image Source: Port Beirut Blast
Lebanon is in mourning after a huge explosion in the capital Beirut, a city on the Mediterranean Sea home to roughly 2.2 million people, which is already reeling from an economic crisis and a surge in coronavirus infections, killed at least 78 people and injured more than 4,000 others on Tuesday. The whole city was shaken by the blast, which began with a fire at the port which exploded into a mushroom cloud. Several explosions occurred just after 15:00 GMT on August 4. Dozens of ambulances ferried the injured from the port area, where the wounded lay on the ground. Beirut hospitals quickly filled beyond capacity, pleading for blood supplies and generators to keep their lights on.

Local media showed people trapped beneath rubble. A witness described the explosion as deafening, and video footage showed wrecked cars and blast-damaged buildings. Their sirens wailing, ambulances inched their way through heavy traffic to get to the site of the blast. Shards of glass blanketed the highway leading into Beirut from the north, as a tractor cleared the rubble. Literally all over Beirut, people were calling each other from different areas kilometres away and they were experiencing the same thing: broken glass, buildings shaking, a loud explosion.

Approximately 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate had reportedly been unloaded from a ship impounded at the port in 2013, and then stored in a warehouse there. An investigation is under way to find the exact trigger for the explosion.

US President Donald Trump says his generals have told him they think the massive explosion that has rocked Beirut, killing more than 70 people, was likely a bomb. Mr Trump said "It would seem like it was a bomb, based on the explosion. I met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel that it was. This was not some kind of a manufacturing explosion type of event according to them, they would know better than I would, but they seemed to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind. Yes."

US based arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis told the Washington Post that the smaller explosions seen before the larger blast could have been caused by munitions stored at the port being detonated by a fire.

The blast was also felt 240 kilometres away on the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean, with people there saying they thought it was an earthquake.

Ammonium nitrate has a number of different uses, but the two most common are as an agricultural fertiliser and as an explosive. It is highly explosive when it comes into contact with fire and when it explodes, ammonium nitrate can release toxic gases including nitrogen oxides and ammonia gas. Because it's so flammable there are strict rules on how to store ammonium nitrate safely, among the requirements are that the storage site needs to be thoroughly fire-proofed, and there can't be any drains, pipes or other channels in which ammonium nitrate could build up, creating an additional explosion hazard.

The Port of Beirut is the main port in Lebanon located on the eastern part of the Saint George Bay on Beirut's northern Mediterranean coast, west of the Beirut River. It is one of the largest and busiest ports on the Eastern Mediterranean. The port is operated and managed by the Gestion et exploitation du port de Beyrouth. Container terminal operations are subcontracted to the private Beirut Container Terminal Consortium. It is an important gateway for transporting freight to Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf States. The Port of Beirut has a total area of 1,200,000 square meters and has 4 basins, 16 quays, and a new container terminal at quay 16 capable of handling 745,000 twenty-foot equivalent units per year.

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Posted By : Yogender Pancholi on Wed, 05 Aug 2020
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