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Massive Explosion in Beirut reveals Lebanon’s Incompetence

On 4th August 2020, known as the mini Hiroshima, a massive explosion in Beirut took everyone by shock. As Beirut still reels from the disaster, this event is being described as one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in the history of the world. At least 150 people were killed and around 4000 were injured in this deadliest explosion. Media, public, and International powers have been demanding an answer from the government since then. 

History of Beirut prior to Explosion

Lebanon, especially Beirut has been through a lot. This city has been destroyed seven times during its 5000-year history and has managed to rise from the ashes. From bombings of U.S Marine barracks to attack Prime Minister’s convoy and a war with Israel, Beirut is acknowledged as a neglected city. 

The warehouse holding 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded and destroyed the city. Ammonium nitrate is a chemical used in fertilizers as well as an ingredient in bombs. The roots of this explosion date back to 2013 when a ship filled with 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate with a Russian crew stopped at the Lebanese port.

Originally the captain of the ship was instructed to pick up more cargo on his stop to Beirut but due to some legal dispute, this could not happen. All the ammonium nitrate was unloaded and impounded because the shipping company was in debt and there was a dispute over the port fees. 

The crew of this ship was released after a year but the ammonium nitrate was shifted to a warehouse and it remained there since then. 

Location of the massive destruction

The blast occurred at the north of the city, on Beirut port. Several buildings, warehouses, and even grain silos have been damaged. It is reported that the silos destroyed contained around 85 percent of the country’s grains. The Beirut port handles around 60 percent of the overall imports of the country. 

The explosion has destroyed most shopping malls, housing societies, homes, and offices which is visible from the videos circulating on social media. 

The impact of the Beirut explosion

According to the witnesses, the second blast was the deadliest one. It felt like an earthquake and many describe it as a second Chernobyl. According to a report by the United States Geological Survey, the waves of the explosion were equivalent to a 3.3 magnitude earthquake. Similar events have happened in other areas of the world too in the past but this explosion is considered to be the worst of all. 

The explosion has not just destroyed buildings but cars and even cruises too. A ship blasted out of the water and landed on a dock due to the explosion. The financial loss of about $3 billion has been recorded. 

According to the health minister of Lebanon, the explosion has destroyed most of the hospitals nearby and they cannot admit any patients. He also said that the country was running short of the equipment needed to rescue and treat the victims. Many doctors and nurses have also been killed in the blast. 

Around 300,000 homes are damaged and are not habitable any longer. The country also is fighting with the Coronavirus with over 5000 cases. The explosion has resulted in a rise in food prices by 80 percent and the national currency has fallen by the same percentage. Residents are also experiencing electricity blackouts daily, and the government has not discovered any solution for it yet.

Lebanon’s officials have announced that the country was defaulting on its debts. It is to be considered that around half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line and around 35% of the population is unemployed.

The country’s elites are already trading blame. The Ministry of Public Works and the authorities at the port are blaming courts for the blast. According to them, the court delayed the release of cargo even after repeated requests. 

The judiciary claims that the government is blaming the courts for their negligence. The blast has led to extreme anguish in the public. Hundreds of angry protestors are demanding the resignation of the president and are damaging private and public properties. 

The country is going through the worst economic crises since the civil war ended in 1990. Lebanon also has an ongoing tension with Israel, but Israeli officials have denied having any connection with the explosion. 

How can Lebanon recover from the explosion

Hundreds of people are left homeless after the explosion and most of lost their jobs. It is high time that the international community comes forward and offers support to the industries and businesses so the public, as well as the economy, can recover from the deadly incident. 

The recovery from this explosion has both political and humanitarian aspects. The country and the economy cannot recover without addressing both aspects of the recovery. According to the news, it is expected that the cabinet will resign due to the pressure of the public. 

Lebanon is expected to receive financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as negotiations are going on. Many other international communities have been coming forward to help but according to the specialists, this much needed financial aid will come at a higher price than before. 

The question of recovery will hang over the country even after the world starts to forget about this explosion. Even though the government has resigned, this has not yet served as a solution to the lives lost and the homes destroyed.

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