Lebanon blast injures thousands
by Seth Johnson
Posted 8/04/20, 10:54 pm
A massive explosion at Beirut’s port sent a mushroom cloud billowing over the city on Tuesday. The blast was so forceful that some residents thought it was an earthquake. It flattened much of the port, damaged nearby buildings, and collapsed balconies miles away. At least 100 people died, and more than 4,000 were injured, according to a Lebanese Red Cross official who said those numbers likely will rise. People more than 100 miles across the Mediterranean Sea in Cyprus heard and felt the explosion. Smoke continued to rise from the port on Wednesday morning.
What caused it? Crews were battling a fire in the area before the blast, and experts believe fireworks and ammonium nitrate stored in the area fueled the blaze that ignited the explosion. Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi told a local TV station that a warehouse at the dock contained more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate that Lebanese officials had confiscated from a cargo ship in 2014. The common ingredient in fertilizer is highly explosive and was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
Dig deeper: Read Onize Ohikere’s report about how the coronavirus pandemic has devastated Lebanon’s struggling economy.
Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.
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Seth is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute student course.