Man-Made Catastrophe

The World has come to know the sounds of many man-made explosions too frequently in its recent past, but the blast that laid west-central district of the Beirut on Tuesday, 4 August 2020, which has scratched the wound inflected by the horrible incidence like 9/11 US attack which also happened on Tuesday.

After the Beirut explosion, social media has been flooded with speculations and conspiracy theories over the reasons behind the deadly blast.

Initially the Lebanese government has stated that the blast was caused due to lying of 2,700 tonnes of the chemical compound ammonium nitrate, in a warehouse in Beirut’s port since 2013.

Though many people of the country are not convinced by the official narrative and started protest against the besieged government.

Now Lebanon’s besieged government has fallen after a week of Beirut port disaster. The prime minister, Hassan Diab, claiming that the disaster was the result of native corruption. The decision of resignation of the government came after when more than a third of the ministers quit their posts and forcing Hassan Diab himself to resign.

Lets Discuss about some important facts first:

What is Ammonium nitrate and how did it get to Beirut’s port?

Ammonium nitrate is a naturally white crystalline solid, it is a compound of ammonia, nitrogen and oxygen, it is an industrial chemical which is commonly used as fertilisers, but often it is also used as an explosive for mining.

The chemical formula of ammonium nitrate is NH4NO3, it is also known as saltpetre. In most of the cases, ammonium nitrate is relatively stable and also used to smother a fire. However, if it is contaminated then it can become highly explosive.

Still, the causes of the deadly explosion of Beirut remain cloudy and unexplained.

There are still many details surrounding the cause of the explosion that devastated much of Beirut on Tuesday that remain murky and unexplained. Till now the government of Lebanese believes that the enormous blast has happened due to 2700 tonnes of the chemical compound ammonium nitrate which was kept in Beirut port since 2013.

Previous incidents of ammonium nitrate:

On April 16 1947, almost 500 died and more than 5000 people were injured due to the explosion of 2300 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at the Port of Texas City. Texas City disaster was the deadliest industrial accident in US history.

In 2015, 800 tonnes ammonium nitrate explosion took place in a chemical plant the Chinese port of Tianjin. That was a series of the explosion in which 173 died and 798 people were injured.

There was high risk in keeping these goods in the hanger in the unfavorable climatic conditions,so they requested the marine agency to re-export the goods immediately to preserve the safety of the port and workers, or they were agreeing to resell the goods.

On 27 October 2017 another letter was sent by Lebanese customs administration director for requesting immediate solutions to the life threatening situation.

Israeli attack conspiracy

After the Beirut disaster, several social media users had started blaming Israel for the attack by sharing screenshots of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu twitter posts which was posted shortly before the blast.

On Tuesday, after touring a military base in the city of Ramle in Isreal, the Prime Minister of Isreal Netanyahu warned: “We hit a cell and now we hit the dispatchers. We will do what is necessary in order to defend ourselves. I suggest to all of them, including Hezbollah, to consider this.”

In the tweet the PM was referring to the Israeli army and claiming that on Monday, the army has thwarted a Syrian government attack along the border in the occupied Golan Heights, targeting four people who had apparently planted explosives. 

“These are not vain words; they have the weight of the State of Israel and the IDF behind them and this should be taken seriously,” Netanyahu tweeted.

The comments just came after the tensions which had arisen in the area after a Hezbollah fighter was killed in a glaring Israeli strike on the edge of Damascus.

Despite the timing of Netanyahu’s tweet, there is very little evidence which suggests that Israel was targeting Hezbollah in Beirut. 

An Israeli military source denied carrying out the attack, said that it was “not a security-related event”. 

Iran is also as one of the enemies of the state of Israel because Israel has ruled out Tel Aviv’s involvement of Iran.

Israel had announced that it will offer medical and humanitarian support to Lebanon and also that Tel Aviv’s municipal building will light up on Wednesday evening in solidarity with victims of the disaster.

Some observers had criticized the government’s offer to help as “propaganda”.

Hezbollah involvement 

Some theorised claimed that Israel itself carried out this attack in order to target Hezbollah, while others speculated that the Lebanese group itself may have played this game.

People was widely shared a 2017 video of General Hassan Nasrallah (Secretary-General of Hezbollah), in which he is talking about the “nuclear-like” explosion caused by ammonium nitrate on Israel’s Haifa Port.

Other people had also re-posted a tweet of the Israeli army, in which the Israeli army purportedly showing the location of an Iranian and Hezbollah “missile project”. 

Despite the resurfacing videos and images, Lebanese officials have maintained that the site of the blast was a warehouse storing confiscated materiel, with no suggestion that there was Hezbollah involved in this attack.

Nuclear or missile bomb 

Yet now there is no proper evidence has come off the incident but it is widely believed that the blast was the result of an accident involving highly explosive materials.

However, many people have also speculated that the bomb was mainly targeting Lebanon’s capital.

Among the suggestions, US President Donald Trump also suggested that it may be a deliberate attack. He said to reporters that “I met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel that it was, this was not some kind of a manufacturing explosion type of event,” he said to reporters on Tuesday. “This seems to be, according to them, they would know better than I would, but they seem to think it was [an] attack.”

On social media some users posted videos and images of black objects flying near the blast site to suggest a missile may have been involved. 

Most of the users have made fun of these pictures and pointed out that the flying objects seem to be birds.

People also pointed on the ‘mushroom cloud‘ and gave different opinions while other people are seizing on the ‘mushroom cloud‘ that you can see this cloud in all kind of explosions. 

A renowned UK left-wing activist, Aaron Bastani has claimed that the blast was caused by a thermobaric weapon. This type of weapon uses oxygen from the blast zone to generate a high-temperature explosion. 

The UK and US were used thermobaric weapons in Afghanistan and in 2013 it was also by the Syrian government against the rebel forces in the western city of Qusayr. 

Turkish shipment 

The head of Lebanon’s General Security, Abbas Ibrahim remarked that the high-explosive material were confiscated for years in the warehouse which exploded. On social media it is also circulated that the heap of explosives were supposed to be a Turkish shipment on the way for Syria. 

Translation: Construction: The materials that caused the explosion: sodium nitrate seized from a ship carrying ammunition from Turkey to terrorist groups in Syria

Contrary to the above, the chemicals originally arrived at Beirut’s port on board a Russian-owned cargo vessel flying a Moldovan flag in September 2013.

“, the shipping monitoring organisation reportedly mentioned that the vessel was forbidden from sailing as per inspection of the vessel by Port State Control, ”.

“Most crew except the master and four crew members were repatriated and shortly afterwards the vessel was abandoned by her owners after charterers and cargo concern lost interest in the cargo.” Further, according to an online report assumed to be noticed by Al Jazeera, the ship’s dangerous explosives were then off-loaded and placed there at hangar 12.

Fireworks storage 

In the initial footage of the first blast, fireworks were noticed simultaneously shortly before the power blast.

Lebanon’s general security chief denied the incidence of fireworks saying “Talking about fireworks is ridiculous, there is no fireworks but high-explosive materials,”. 

However, Lebanese authorities have suggested the storage of fireworks near the ammonium nitrate. 

According to Boaz Hayoun, owner of an Israeli firm associated with the Israeli government that works on safety and certification issues of explosives, fireworks were likely involved. 

According to The Associated Press, Hayoun pointed at sparks, popping and whistling sound noticeable at the centre of the fire before the big explosion. He narrates it as a specific firework scene that constitutes visuals, sound and a slow flame turning to a massive explosion.

Source: middle east eye

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