The Cause and Result of the Beirut Port Explosion
Updated: Dec 5, 2020
On August 4th, 2020, a huge explosion rocked the Port of Beirut. The aftermath of that explosion proved to be disastrous for the economy, people, and government of Lebanon.
The explosion was caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored in the port for over six years. The blast was felt in Syria, Turkey, Israel, and parts of Europe, and was heard in Cyprus, over 160 miles(250 km.) away from Beirut. In Beirut, windows were shattered up to a shocking 20 miles from the port.
In the weeks following the explosion, new information has been revealed about how the ammonium nitrate had gotten into Beirut and why it had been there for so long.
On November 21, 2013, the MV Rhosus, a cargo ship bound for Mozambique, stopped in the Beirut port. The reason the ship stopped in Beirut is still uncertain. Reports say there were engine problems on the ship, or that the owner did not have enough money to pay tolls for the Suez Canal nearby.
While ported in Beirut, the owner of the ship went bankrupt, abandoning the ship and cargo. The crew members of the ship were forced to live on the ship for about a year until an urgent matters judge allowed them to return home. The judge also ordered the cargo to be brought ashore, where it has stayed in storage until recently.
Next to the stored Ammonium Nitrate were silos containing over 15,000 tons of grain. Most of them were destroyed by the explosion, leaving the country with less than a month's worth of grain. Lebanese economy minister Raoul Nehme assured the country that famine was not an immediate worry and he stated, “We have enough inventory and boats on their way to cover the needs of Lebanon on the long term.”
Lebanon had been in an economic crisis before the explosion, and the destruction caused only served to exacerbate the tensions between the people and government of Lebanon. Protesters in the Lebanese capital have accused the government of negligence and say the explosion could have been prevented. In wake of the protests, multiple members of the Lebanese parliament have resigned. Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced the mass resignation on Monday, August 10th. In the announcement, he said that "his cabinet had the interest of the Lebanese people at heart, but they had faced huge corruption."
With all of these disasters piling on top of each other, many people wonder as to how Lebanon will recover.