Ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse linked to catastrophic Beirut explosion

Ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse linked to catastrophic Beirut explosion

"This is a catastrophe for Beirut and Lebanon".

Tuesday's blast at port warehouses storing highly explosive material was the most powerful in years in Beirut, already reeling from an economic crisis and a surge in coronavirus infections.

Lebanon's capital, Beirut, is mourning the victims of Tuesday's huge blast, which killed more than 100, injured thousands and caused widespread destruction in the city.

Initial reports in state media blamed the blast on a major fire at a firecrackers warehouse near the port, that likely spread to nearby buildings. In this state, burning ammonium nitrate can emit a brown smoke akin to that seen rising from the blast's epicentre in Beirut right after the explosion. Those filming the incident from tower blocks as far as 2 km (one mile) from the port were thrown backwards by the shockwave. Six to eight field hospitals would be ready "soon", he said.


The governor of Beirut port told Sky News a team of firefighters, who were battling the initial blaze, had "disappeared" after the explosion.

Facades of central Beirut buildings were ripped off, furniture was sucked into streets and roads were strewn with glass and debris.

It also happened days before Friday's scheduled verdict by a UN-backed court in the case of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

Beirut port, where the blast originated, is an important piece of infrastructure, serving as a gateway for traffic from Mediterranean Sea to Lebanon as well as Syria, Jordan and Iraq.

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