Port district explosionBeirut, Lebanon4. August 2020
form of destructionparties responsibleestimated deathsestimated injured
ammonium nitrate explosionnot yet clarified1906'500
The explosion in Beirut occurred on August 4, 2020 at 18:08 local time (17:08 CEST) in the port of Beirut on the Golfe de Saint-Georges and hit the whole city catastrophically. The cause was a fire that caused 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate in a port storage facility to explode. The German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Raw Materials estimated the explosive force at 500 to 1100 tons of TNT equivalent. The explosion destroyed parts of the port and caused damage in large parts of the city. According to Lebanese government figures, at least 190 people were killed and more than 6500 injured.
As a result of the explosion disaster, there were mass protests against the Lebanese government (see Protests in Lebanon 2019-20), which the demonstrators blame for the economic and political crisis in the country. Six days after the explosion, the government under Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned.
The economy of Lebanon was in a state of crisis before the explosions, with the government having defaulted on debt, the pound plunging, and a poverty rate that had risen past 50%. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic had overwhelmed many of the country's hospitals, several of which already were short of medical supplies and unable to pay staff due to a financial crisis. The morning before the explosion, the head of the Rafik Hariri University Hospital, which served as the main coronavirus medical facility in Lebanon, warned that it was approaching full capacity.
The government-owned Port of Beirut serves as the main maritime entry point into Lebanon and a vital piece of infrastructure for the importation of scarce goods. The Beirut Naval Base is a part of the port. The port included four basins, sixteen quays, twelve warehouses, a large container terminal, and grain silos with a total capacity of 120,000 tonnes that served as a strategic reserve of cereals for the country. The silos were built in the 1960s as part of an expansion plan advanced by Palestinian banker Yousef Beidas.
100% distruction ∎ 70% distruction ∎ 50% distruction ∎ 20% distruction ∎ blast site ⃘
Damage after the Beirut explosion
The Port of Beirut eleven days after the disaster. The French amphibious assault ship Tonnerre is the large ship on the right, which arrived in the port on 13 August to provide food, construction materials, medical supplies, and personnel.