At least 150 are said to be dead after a massive explosion of ammonium nitrate in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday evening. Additionally, 100 people remain missing, over 5,000 are said to be injured, and it is suspected that 300,000 will be left homeless in the wake of the explosion. Multiple letters from a port customs chief, dating back to as early as 2014, addressed the dangers of the materials and recommended that they be moved for the safety of the port. Twenty Beirut port officials suspected to have possibly been involved have been put under house arrest.
Riots and protests have broken out since the explosion, with citizens demanding government officials “Resign or Hang.” Many, protesting politicians “whose corruption and negligence they blame for the explosion,” faced off with security forces. Crowds of between 5,000 and 10,000 people held nooses and made mock gallows in the central public square. Lebanon’s government is said to be “dominated by Hezbollah, which the US and several other nations have designated as a terrorist organization.” They have denied any involvement in the incident.
Absolutely staggering numbers toay in #Beirut. Square split between peaceful on one side and rioting on the other. We’re hearing live fire every now and then. Over 100 injured so far. #LebanonProtests pic.twitter.com/C4cpYhyJIQ— Timour Azhari (@timourazhari) August 8, 2020
President Trump stated that it is unknown what the cause of the explosion was. Many believe it was an accident and the result of negligence in regards to storage of thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate. Lebanese President Michel Aoun rejected the proposal of the United Nations human rights commission for an international investigation into the explosion, but pressure for such has mounted. The Lebanese government was said they will conduct their own investigations.
I have never seen this amount of destruction on this scale. This is a national catastrophe. This is a disaster for Lebanon. We don’t know how we will recover. We don’t know. We could barely survive before and now we have this. We have to be strong.”Marwan Abboud, Governor of Beirut
International relief has been widespread, with supplies from Germany, Canada, Bangladesh, Israel, and Russia being offered. The US Department of Defense announced their pledge to send $15 million in food, water, and medical supplies, as well.