What is Ammonium Nitrate, blamed in the Beirut explosion?
BEIRUT (NYTIMES) - Lebanese officials say that thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at the port in Beirut caused the powerful explosion that devastated the city on Tuesday, killing more than 130 people, injuring at least 4,000 and displacing 300,000 from their homes.. Read more at straitstimes.com.
Ammonium nitrate is used in fertiliser and in the mining industry as an explosive to blast rock and move mounds of earth.It has some military applications as well.It has been the cause of previous industrial accidents, and an ingredient in acts of terrorism as well.
It was used by white supremacists to blow up the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1995.What happened in Beirut? Videos posted online from the Beirut waterfront on Aug 4 showed an epic disaster unfold with terrifying speed.
White smoke billowing from a fire burning out of control in a warehouse near towering grain silos gave way to a massive explosion of reddish-black smoke. A spherical cloud of water vapour formed as the shock wave raced outward, wrapping around the silos, and disappearing into downtown Beirut. Videos taken closer to the explosion showed how a wall of compressed air shattered everything in its path as it moved closer, eventually sending the cameras themselves flying. headtopics.com
What caused such a big explosion? According to the Lebanese government, about 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate fertiliser was stored in a warehouse on the Beirut waterfront and caught fire, later exploding. The fertiliser arrived in the city more than six years ago aboard a Russian-owned cargo ship that made an unscheduled stop in the city. Lebanese port officials said they made several requests to the courts to have the stockpile removed, but got no response.
How could fertiliser possibly explode? Ammonium nitrate, by itself, is relatively harmless. But if added to a fuel source, and subjected to intense stresses like heat and pressure, it can explode. Although we do not know exactly what happened yet in Beirut, the sheer size of the collected ammonium nitrate offers some clues. If subjected to fire in such bulk quantities, and in a semi-contained environment like a warehouse, the potential for detonation is strong.
Has this happened before? Yes. In 1947, an explosion in Texas City, Texas, killed at least 581 people and wounded 3,500 after two cargo ships carrying ammonium nitrate caught fire. In 2013, a fertiliser plant in West, Texas, caught fire and exploded, killing 15 people. In 2015, disaster struck in Tianjin, China, when a fertiliser explosion killed 165 people at a busy seaport.
Many Americans were introduced to the dangers of ammonium nitrate from the destruction in Oklahoma City, carried out by white supremacists in 1995. Two tons of the fertiliser were mixed with diesel fuel to create a bomb placed inside a rental truck that detonated in front of the building. headtopics.com
How powerful was the explosion in Beirut? It was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in recent history, according to Brian Castner, lead weapons investigator for Amnesty International's Crisis Response Team."It's the biggest explosion in an urban area in decades," he said."The human impact of it is the important thing, and it affected people a dozen kilometres away." While it is difficult to precisely calibrate the force of the Beirut explosion, the US military offers a formula that allows bomb technicians a quick way to calculate the power of a blast with just paper and pencil, by converting the weight of a known quantity of explosives to that of TNT.
There were 2,750 tons of the fertiliser in the Beirut warehouse, roughly equivalent to 1,155 tons of TNT, which would produce a large enough blast wave to destroy most buildings within around 243m, and would shatter glass far beyond a range of 2km.How does that compare to an airdropped bomb? It is many times larger than the most powerful conventional airdropped bomb in the US arsenal, which was used in combat for the first time in 2017. That bomb, the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast, has a net explosive weight of 18,700 pounds or roughly 9.35 tons of TNT, according to data from the US Army Defence Ammunition Centre.
But the Beirut explosion was far smaller than the 15,000-ton TNT equivalent of the smallest nuclear weapon ever used in war, which was dropped on Hiroshima 75 years ago this Thursday. Read more: The Straits Times »
2 influencers face deportation from Bali over painted-on face mask prank
Large blast in Beirut port area rocks Lebanon's capital, many people hurtA huge explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut on Tuesday, shaking buildings, shattering windows and sending a huge plume of smoke into the ...
Toll expected to rise in blast that shook Beirut, killing 78 and injuring thousandsLebanese rescue workers dug through the rubble looking for survivors of a powerful warehouse explosion that shook the capital Beirut, killing 78 people and injuring nearly 4,000 in a toll that officials expected to rise. Tuesday's blast at port warehouses storing highly explosive material was the
Beirut blast: 'I was bloodied and dazed' - New York Times correspondent recounts her ordealBEIRUT (NYTIMES) - I was just about to look at a video a friend had sent me on Tuesday (Aug 4) afternoon - 'the port seems to be burning', she said - when my whole building shook, as if startled, by the deepest boom I'd ever heard. Uneasily, naïvely, I ran to the window, then back to my desk to check for news.. Read more at straitstimes.com.
Utter devastation as death toll from Beirut blast tops 100; rescuers search for survivorsRescuers searched for survivors in Beirut Wednesday after a cataclysmic explosion at the port sowed devastation across entire neighbourhoods, ...
Up to 300,000 left homeless by Beirut blast: GovernorBEIRUT (AFP) - A huge blast in Beirut has left 300,000 people homeless and caused damage across half of the city estimated to cost more than US$3 billion (S$4.1 billion), its governor told AFP on Wednesday (Aug 5).. Read more at straitstimes.com.
MFA: No Singaporeans affected by Beirut blast, saddened by loss of livesNo Singaporeans are reported to be affected by the cataclysmic explosion at a port in Beirut, which has killed more than 100 and wounded thousands.