Ammonium Nitrate: Reason Behind Beirut’s Tragic Explosion

More than 100 people died and thousands were injured due to the massive explosion that rocked Lebanon on the evening of August 4, 2020. According to reports, the explosion was due to the thousands of tons of unsecured Ammonium Nitrate that has been stored for six years at a port warehouse in Beirut.

CNN: Ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse linked to catastrophic Beirut explosion


CNN reported that a warehouse storing thousands of tons of unsecured highly explosive material has emerged as a possible source of the massive blast that ripped through the Lebanese capital on Tuesday, killing at least 100 people, injuring 4,000 and sending a shock wave across the city that damaged buildings and blew out windows up to 10 kilometers (6 miles) away.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab said that 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate, which is typically used as an agricultural fertilizer, had been stored for six years at a port warehouse without safety measures, “endangering the safety of citizens,” according to a statement.

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. However, the Prime Minister’s account appeared to be backed by Lebanon’s General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim, who said a “highly explosive material” had been confiscated years earlier and stored in the warehouse, just minutes’ walk from Beirut’s shopping and nightlife districts.


The Guardian recounts that the recent Beirut explosion is on a scale more usually wrought by earthquakes. The port at the heart of the Lebanese capital was annihilated. Shock waves ripped the facades from every building in neighbouring districts – and behind every shattered window are shattered lives. There are not enough hospital beds or a reliable supply of electricity. Infrastructure for storing and importing many of the city’s essential goods has been destroyed, making scarcity of food an imminent threat. A vast crater at the site of the detonation scars the coastline, but deeper still are the wounds to a nation that was already reeling from economic crisis, debilitated by pandemic and weary from political chaos and corruption.

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