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Aug 04 2020
Massive Explosion In Beirut Chalked Up To 2,700 Tons Of Carelessly Stored Ammonium Nitrate Comments (0)

Beirut-explosion-boycultureAn explosion that rocked Beirut Tuesday has killed 70+ (at least) and injured thousands. The fierce blast — viewed countless times on video because it occurred after an initial fire that attracted attention — packed about as much of a punch as a small nuclear device.

It is thought that the explosion was triggered by some 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at the harbor, an egregious and fatal error. It had apparently been confiscated up to six years ago.

Hospitals are overwhelmed, and the after-effects of the blast include toxic air and — soon — rain, which can exacerbate injuries and harm the respiratory system.

I'm truly sorry for all of those who are affected by this disaster. Beirut must feel inordinately punished by fate.

This disaster reminds me of one in U.S. history — the Texas City Disaster of 1947. On April 16, 2,200 tons of ammonium nitrate blew up on a French vessel, causing a cataclysmic chain of other explosions that killed over 500 people — including all but one of the city's firefighters.

According to Wikipedia, it led to the first-ever class-action lawsuit against the U.S. government by its own citizens.

This week (August 6) is also the 75th anniversary of the first atomic bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.