On August 4, a massive blast rocked Beirut, Lebanon’s capital. Last week, Lebanon’s caretaker government reported that the death toll from the blast has risen to 190. More than 6,500 are injured and three people missing.
The explosion took place in Beirut’s port. The cause of the explosion was not immediately apparent. Yet, officials soon linked it to some 2,750 tons of confiscated ammonium nitrate (NO2) that had been stored in a warehouse at the port for six years. The warehouse was just a short walk from Beirut’s shopping and nightlife districts.
Beirut’s governor, Marwan Abboud, said that some 300,000 people have lost their homes as a result of the explosion. The current estimate is that damages range from three to five billion USD. Yet, Beirut officials have projected that the damage from the enormous blast could reach $15 billion. As of now, the true extent of the destruction remains unknown.
The explosion completely flattened the harbor front and surrounding buildings. Repairing or replacing the Beirut’s port, which is the country’s lifeline, could take years. Fortunately, signs of life a month later are still being found in the rubble.