Moon of Alabama,
4 August, 2020
At about 15:00 UTC today a large explosion happened at a quayside building in the port of Beirut, Lebanon.
Second explosion and shockwave
The explosion could be seen and heard from several miles away: vid
There are many casualties.
What exploded is not yet known.
This rumor in Beirut is that this was an accident at a fireworks facility. To me it seems that the first explosion may indeed have been of fireworks. The crackling small explosions after the first explosion point to that. But the second explosion was way too large for fireworks and must have been of something else.
This may also have been something other than an accident.
This comes at a time where more than half of the people in Lebanon live below the poverty line after a Ponzi scheme run by the Central Bank crashed the Lebanese currency and economy. Many people will not have enough money to pay for new window glass which will be hard to come by as the demand will now be extremely high. It also comes in the mid of the Coronavirus epidemic which currently ravages Lebanon and Syria.
On Friday a UN backed international tribunal will deliver its verdict over four men related to Hizbullah who are accused of planting the truck bomb that murdered the former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri some 15 years ago. The incident could be related to it.
This post will be updated when new information comes in.
As of 17:00 UTC there are still several fires burning in the port area. The grain silo is severely damaged. Other warehouses were completely destroyed. The military is using helicopters to fight the fires. Hundreds of cars were tossed around and damaged. Some high rises have lost their whole seaside fronts. vid, vid, vid
Preliminary reports speak of at least 18 killed and more than 400 injured.
This sounds like someone did something stupid and may thus be true:
Abby Sewell @sewella - 15:56 UTC · 4 Aug 2020
Lebanese Army source just told me no cause confirmed yet for explosions in Beirut but possibly a "container of fireworks was burning and the fire spread to reach a nitrate warehouse that led to this massive explosions."
Dalal Mawad لال معوض @dalalmawad - 17:04 UTC · Aug 4, 2020
Head of General Security says the blast was caused by a fire in a depot of highly explosive material, including Sodium nitrate, at Beirut's port. He said that material was confiscated from a ship months ago and stored there. #Lebanon
Nitrate in its various forms can be highly explosive. There have been several large nitrate incidents over time.
From an expert:
GeorgeWilliamHerbert @GeorgeWHerbert - 16:44 UTC · Aug 4, 2020
Regarding tragic giant explosion in Beruit; several videos show large fireworks fire then large red smoke combustion that rapidly detonates. This is characteristic of ammonium nitrate fertilizers fires that detonate as Lebanese army suggested.
Another set of views. Slowed down, I can see three distinct explosions; first one from fireworks about 30 seconds before others. Second is bright, large red cloud immediately rising, but no large shockwave. Very shortly after that is very sharp shockwave from same area. - video
We’ll be measuring effects for some time, but my impression is first fireworks explosion was soft - large white cloud and some roof debris, small explosive yields (tons TNT equivalent); second red cloud tens of tons TNT equivalent, third was kiloton(s) equivalent.
The damage throughout Beirut is huge. The sound of the explosion was heard and felt as far away as Cyprus, 240 kilometers / 150 miles away. A main facility of the EDL (Electricité du Liban) has been destroyed. Instead of several hours of electricity per day Beirut may now have none. The port is obliterated. The grain silos are destroyed. Lebanon depends on imports for nearly everything. There will be huge shortages of bread and everything else throughout the next months.
Most large shop windows in the main shopping district were blown out. The owners fear that their shops will be looted tonight.