Huge Mushroom Cloud Explosion in Beirut Looks Like 1000 Tons of Explosive

A large blast has hit the Lebanese capital, Beirut, causing widespread damage and injuring many people.

It is not yet clear what caused the explosion in the port area of the city. Video posted online showed a large mushroom cloud and destroyed buildings.

The blast killed at least 50 people and injured more than 2,500 others, the health minister says.

Hospitals are said to be overwhelmed and many buildings have been destroyed.

Lebanon’s internal security chief said the blast happened in an area housing highly explosive materials. Lebanon’s National News Agency reported a fire breaking out at what it called an explosives depot at the port before the explosion.

Windows were broken and buildings shaken for miles around the explosion.

On 1917, an ammunition ship with about 2925 metric tons of high explosives blew up and killed about 2000 people. The Mont-Blanc was carrying 2,925 metric tons (about 3,224 short tons) of explosives—including 62 metric tons (about 68 short tons) of guncotton, 246 metric tons (about 271 short tons) of benzol, 250 metric tons (about 276 short tons) of trinitrotoluene (TNT), and 2,367 metric tons (about 2,609 short tons) of picric acid—destined for the French war effort.

26 thoughts on “Huge Mushroom Cloud Explosion in Beirut Looks Like 1000 Tons of Explosive”

  1. Just to be over pedantic: the vapor condenses behind the shockwave as the pressure behind the wave front drops

  2. No radioactive fallout.
    As shown in the 9-11 explosions – you still can get a lot of toxic and unhealthy dust falling out even if no radioactive material is involved.

  3. I have worked on the engineering design of numerous ammonium nitrate storage facilities. One was for a port. My recollection was that the nitrate storage had to be separated from the rest of the port facilities by more than two kilometres.

    2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate is not an unusual quantity of the material when stored. There are formulas for the calculating the nitrate storage separation distance. I guess if I had the formulas handy and did the calculations for 2750 tonnes, I would get a separation distance of several hundred metres or more.

  4. The culture in the ME runs heavily towards Inshallah. “If God/Allah Wills It…” The bullets will hit, the vehicles will run, the enemy will be defeated, the explosives will stay safe. And if not, then… it’s as God wills. And who are they to go against the will of God?

  5. So that’s what a 2kton explosion looks like. Not something I ever really wanted to see in the real world…

    Well, at least there won’t be any fallout.

  6. Ah, well … a new shipment of fertilizer and an old stockpile of fireworks.  Or vice versa. Either way, an error comporting one or the other can set a fire, which leads to the other exploding.  To me (in a much higher time-resolution twitter video), it looks like the fireworks went off for quite awhile before detonating the NH₄NO₃. The red color is a direct result of nitric oxides forming in the decomposition reaction.  

    The ammonium nitrate is a perfectly valid thing to be receiving huge shipments of: it provides the critical ‘nitrogen’ for agriculture, especially for growing ‘row vegetables’ such as onions, celery, parsley, lettuces, and endless fields of cereals. Green-green, ammonium nitrate makes.  The Lebanese will be needing another shipment of that right quick.  If they’re to have decent crop yields. 

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  7. You don’t actually need fuel for some oxidizers to explode, you just get a bigger bang with fuel. Some of the oxidizers are only metastable.

  8. One way or the other the blast has to do with that that Lebanon is a dysfunctional country where safety rules are overlooked. Hopefully, this tragic event will be another catalyst for the people to over throw the Iranian backed Hezbollah controlled government. I wish them the best.

  9. Ammonium Nitrate most likely for fertilizer, it is incompetence to store something that volatile in a civilian area.

  10. Latest reports are that
    1.. There was a confiscated shipment of 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in the warehouse for the last 7 years. Just sitting there.
    2.. There was a large shipment of fireworks stored next to it.
    3.. The fireworks caught fire, that was the initial fire, which was itself pretty big.
    4.. Then the ammonium nitrate detonated.

    Calculating the yield based just on the fertiliser gives about a 2 kiloton yield.

  11. Hezbollah are professionals, esp. under Nasrallah. They would not make a mistake like this.

  12. Life tip: If you can actually SEE the shockwave propagating through the air towards you, don’t take a video, dive for cover, with hands over your ears.

  13. Shockwave overpressure forced condensation of atmospheric water vapor to form visible fog droplets.

  14. Appears initially to be small explosives embedded in a smoke screen. Bulk oxidizer is present. Fuel needs to be mixed for an explosive mix. What???

  15. The Beirut explosion caused by highly explosive sodium nitrate confiscated from a ship more than a year ago and were placed in one of the warehouses located in the port — Sources to LBCI

  16. There is some gas of some sort expanding, but in the videos it isn’t very clear the actual explosion is that big,

    If it is, what were they storing there?

    A terrorist attack with an explosion that size would be very nearly impossible to do, given the amount of explosives required isn’t small… unless it’s a small nuke.

    And a kiloton of explosives isn’t something you just casually keep around. So the possibility this was an accident, sabotage or attack on a weapon stockpile can’t be discarded.

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