|Explosion on the Port of Beirut, Lebanon's Main Sea Port (rappler.com)|
On the evening of August 4th, Lebanon experienced two devastating explosions that took place at the Port of Beirut, the nation’s capital city. A team of specialists from England’s University of Sheffield calculates the magnitude and intensity of the explosions to have been approximately one-tenth of the atomic bomb dropped on Japan’s Hiroshima 75 years ago, justifying its label as one of the strongest and largest non-nuclear explosions to have happened in recent history. As of August 9th, the death toll stood at 158, with an estimate of 5,000 injured and at least 300,000 people that have lost their homes to this catastrophic occurrence. Currently, fingers are pointed towards ammonium nitrate as the leading cause for the destruction. While ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound that is commonly used as fertilizer, it is also an essential component of explosives used in the mining industry, and this is why ammonium nitrate is believed to be the reason for the disaster. According to Lebanese officials, about 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate was stored in a warehouse at the Port of Beirut for six years without any particular safety measures, and some believe that a small fire may have ignited nearby, causing the pile of ammonium nitrate to react in this way. Lebanon’s government has since launched an investigation into the real cause of the explosions.
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