August, 2020

This is a repeating event

202004AugAll DayBeirut Port Explosion 2020Port of Beirut (LB)Industry:WarehouseCountry:LebanonLanguage:ENLoC:Confined explosion Origin: TCE Incident:Explosive decompositionHazards:ExplosiveImpact:HUMAN (Offsite Fatalities)Effects:> 100 FatalitiesMaterial:Ammonium Nitrate


An explosion at a warehouse storing ammonium nitrate in Beirut, Lebanon, has killed at least 135 people and injured at least 5,000.

Two explosions occurred at around 18:00 local time on 4 August. According to local media and video footage, the initial explosion caused white smoke to rise from the warehouse in Beirut port, followed by a huge second explosion which sent a shockwave out from the blast site. A pillar of reddish-brown smoke was seen rising from the site, the colour being characteristic of nitrogen dioxide. A video from The Guardian shows the devastating nature of the blast.

The shockwave shattered windows and damaged buildings several kilometres away from the blast site. Rescuers are still reportedly searching through the rubble for missing people. Hospitals across the city – reported by the BBC as already struggling to cope with Covid-19 – are overwhelmed, according to Reuters. The New York Times reported that one hospital was so badly damaged by the blast that it had to shut down and send patients elsewhere.

According to BBC, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said that 2,750 t of ammonium nitrate had been stored at a warehouse in the port since 2014 without any safety measures in place. The ammonium nitrate had been impounded from a ship that brought it into the port in 2013.

Image Credit: EPA
Image Credit: Visual Capitalist (Source – Zhe Han Thermal Stability Studies of Ammonium Nitrate)


TCEThe Chemical Engineer (IChemE)