Satellite Images Of Beirut Explosion Show Massive Crater At Port
Satellite images from the scene of Beirut’s devastating explosion have revealed a crater at the city’s port.
Yesterday’s blast, August 4, saw catastrophic damage across Lebanon’s capital. At least 135 people have died and more than 5,000 have been injured, with Lebanon’s Red Cross dubbing it a ‘huge catastrophe’, saying there are ‘victims and casualties everywhere’.
The structural damage has also been vast, with cars tipped and destroyed, homes as far as 10km affected and windows across the city blown out. However, the impact of the explosion from the port is particularly startling.
Photos posted to Twitter by @planetlabs show the SkySat imagery of the blast site – all around Beirut’s port, buildings have endured significant damage. To the right, an underwater crater now occupies the space once held by a building. To the far right, a capsized cruise ship can also be seen.
While the mushroom cloud triggered by the explosion has people theorising it was a nuclear bomb… it wasn’t. However, the force of the blast equated to 1,000-1,500 tons of TNT – almost one-tenth of the power of Hiroshima’s atomic bomb.
Professor Andy Tyas, from the University of Sheffield, told BBC News:
Whatever the precise charge size, this is unquestionably one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, far bigger than any conventional weapon.
We have also analysed video footage of the time delay between the detonation and the arrival of the shock wave at points several hundred metres from the explosion and these broadly agree with this size of charge. If correct, that would mean this explosion had perhaps 10% of the intensity of the Hiroshima bomb.
The widespread damage has left an estimated 300,000 people without homes. The Lebanese government has since established a two-week state of emergency.
Lebanon President Michel Aoun attributed the explosion to more than 2,750 tons of abandoned ammonium nitrate – likely confiscated by authorities ‘a while back’, according to General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim.
As reported by Al Arabiya, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said at a defence council meeting: ‘It is unacceptable that a shipment of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate has been present for six years in a warehouse, without taking preventive measures. It is unacceptable and we cannot remain silent on this issue.’
Diab added in a televised speech that those responsible for the blast would ‘pay the price… I promise you that this catastrophe will not pass without accountability’.
A number of port officials have since been placed under house arrest pending a full investigation into the culpability of the explosion.
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