If it weren’t for the coronavirus pandemic, the horrific disaster in Beirut would be the biggest news of 2020 so far. When is gonna stop?

The massive explosion took place at the port of Beirut on Tuesday 4 August and rocked the Lebanese capital. As Bloomberg reports, the blasts, especially the second, were so huge they were reportedly heard and felt in Cyprus. At least 200 people were killed and 5,000 wounded. A large expanse of the port and its immediate neighborhood lied in smoking ruin; miles away, streets were full of shattered glass.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government said the explosions were caused when careless welding ignited about 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly combustible material used as fertilizer and for bomb-making. By comparison, Timothy McVeigh used about 2.4 tons of the same chemical in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The 2015 disaster in the Chinese city of Tianjin was caused by the explosion of 800 tons of ammonium nitrate.

Anti-government protests erupted near Beirut’s parliament the following days. Lebanon’s government stepped down six days after the disaster. ■


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