The city of Beirut has been left overwhelmed after two blasts on Tuesday killed 113 people and injured thousands. The before and after pictures of the Lebanese capital show the extent of devastation caused by the two blasts. Satellite images of the port before the explosion show a bustling street lined by warehouses and vessels docked at the port. The aftermath of the deadly explosion, captured by US space technology company Maxar, show warehouses levelled to the ground and other structures in the area completely demolished. Satellite images also showed a part of the port that has caved inland by the impact of the blasts.
Photos shared online show the bloodied and wounded trapped in the debris, glass shards strewn across the area and burning buildings. Dramatic videos on social media showed plumes of smoke and dust, shooting up in a mushroom cloud after the explosions at the city’s port.
The resulting impact of the blasts were felt and heard in Cyprus’ capital Nicosia, 240 kilometres away, and was registered by seismologists as the equivalent of a 3.3-magnitude earthquake.
The second blast shot an enormous orange fireball into the sky, immediately followed by a tornado-like shockwave that flattened the port and shattered glasses on windows across the city.
Nearly 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, stored in the Beirut port warehouse, exploded on Tuesday, devastating large parts of the Lebanese capital, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said.
Ammonium nitrate is an industrial chemical which is commonly used in fertilisers and as an explosive for quarrying and mining. It is an oxidiser, considered to be relatively safe if uncontaminated and stored properly. However, the chemical is extremely dangerous if contaminated, is mixed with fuel or is stored unsafely.
Experts noted that the colour of the smoke and the mushroom cloud seen in the footage of Tuesday’s blast are characteristic features of an ammonium nitrate explosion.
The huge explosion, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, has put enourmous pressure on Lebanon’s already strained health sector, which is struggling to contain the contagion amid a severe economic crisis.
Beirut Governor Marwan Aboud has put the cost of the damage from Tuesday’s explosion between $3 billion and $5 billion and said, “I think there are between 250,000 and 300,000 people who are now without homes.”
Around 4,000 people have been injured in the most powerful explosion that has hit Beirut in years. The explosion sent shockwaves across Beirut as unsuspecting residents thought the city has been hit by a massive earthquake.
Emergency medical aid and pop-up field hospitals were dispatched to Lebanon on Wednesday along with rescue experts and tracking dogs, as the world reached out to the victims of the explosion that devastated Beirut.
Lebanese Red Cross said more than 4,000 people are being treated for injuries after the explosion at the Beirut port that devastated entire neighbourhoods of the city.
(With inputs from Agencies)