Beirut port explosion

This item appears on page 4 of the October 2020 issue.

An explosion that occurred at the port of Beirut, Lebanon, on Aug. 4 killed at least 220 people and injured thousands more. The explosion damaged and destroyed buildings throughout the city, leaving nearly 300,000 people homeless. It also destroyed the country’s largest grain silo, wiping out most of its food stores.

The explosion was caused when a fire started in a warehouse containing fireworks. That fire spread to another warehouse where more than 2,700 metric tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in both fertilizers and explosives, had been unsafely stored since 2013. The blast was felt as far away as the island of Cyprus, more than 100 miles distant. It is considered the fifth-largest man-made, non-nuclear explosion ever recorded.

Street protests followed, with demands for changes in the Lebanese government. Many members of the government, including the Prime Minister, resigned on Aug. 10.