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10 Important Facts About the Beirut Blast

5. Beirut Blast Guts the Nation

Beirut Blast Aftermath
There were an estimated 300K made homeless, 220 killed.

If the material loss seems to be unbearable, the human loss is devastating to take in. With effectively half the city leveled, more than 300K people were left destitute and homeless in the wake of the explosion.

The death toll of the explosion is around 220, and thousands of people were injured during the blast. The missing-person list is now up to 110 people just in the city. With three hospitals destroyed and two more heavily damaged, the injured are left to be treated in the streets. In short, the explosion has gutted the nation completely.

The explosion also destroyed the grain silos in the port, causing the possibility of a food crisis to further plague the country. Reports suggest that the country was only left with six weeks of food reserves. To fend off that possibility, the UN sent fifty thousand tons of wheat through the World Food Programme to Lebanon.

The first batch of 17,500 tons is expected to arrive next week. With the destruction of Beirut’s port, complications were expected to crop with shipping such a large quantity of food. However, WFP has stated that they possess the capacity to ship the resources directly into Beirut despite no port infrastructure available.

According to Raoul Nehme, the Minister of Economy and Trade, the country has 32,000 tons of flour in storage, and an additional 110,000 tons is expected to arrive within two weeks. He has assured the country via Twitter that there is no stock or bread crisis in Lebanon. (1, 2)

6. Negligence and Corruption Play a Big Role in the Explosion

Parliament house in Beirut
Lebanon officials ignored the warnings of “extreme danger.”

The saddest part of the explosions that shook Beirut was the fact that it was entirely avoidable. Human negligence and widespread corruption in the city was one of the major reasons for the city’s current state.

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Reports suggest that the authorities knew about the existence of such a large amount of ammonium nitrate being stored in port warehouses.

Storage workers before the Blast
Storage workers inspecting sacks of highly volatile ammonium nitrate. Image credit: @Dalatrm/Twitter

According to customs officials, the judiciary had been notified about the danger of the situation more than five times, only for it to fall on deaf ears. They further state that their requests to re-export it have never been approved.

Custom Cheif Badri Daher blames Mohammad el Mawla, the Harbor Master of Beirut’s port, for bringing in that dangerous cargo into Beirut. He questioned Mawla on why such a cargo was allowed to be unloaded and stored in a warehouse and also accuses him of being negligent in his duties by ignoring its dangerous nature.

Left to be stored in an unsafe environment, the inevitable happened when no one expected it. (source)

Also read: Onagawa, the Nuclear Power Plant that Survived a Catastrophic Meltdown

7. Anti-Government Protests Start-Up After the Blast

Protesters in Beirut
Thousands of protesters stormed the Ministry offices demanding the resignation of the government after the Beirut Blast.

The populace has been less than pleased with the Lebanon government, understandably. Their negligence has gutted the city and brought people to the streets.

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In the wake of the explosion, anti-government protests have begun to pop-up more and more frequently. Protesters have begun to clash with Lebanon security forces at these demonstrations with alarming frequency since the explosion.

The populace rightfully blames the government for the explosion and wants this explosion to be a turning point in the nation’s history. They are relatively unimpressed with how the government officials have handled such a dangerous substance like ammonium nitrate.

It is to be noted that the unrest among the populace has been building for a long time even before the explosion. The situation in Lebanon has been deteriorating for a long time now. Since late 2019, the populace has been unhappy with the way things are and have frequently been protesting against the government.

Initially triggered by rising taxes, the protests have expanded to condemning sectarian rule, a stagnant economy, unemployment, and endemic corruption in the public sector. With the explosion bringing the nation to its knees, things have become increasingly volatile in Lebanon of late. (1, 2)

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