Lebanon – A large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the port of the city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, exploded, causing at least 204 deaths, 6,500 injuries, and US$15 billion in property damage, and leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless. The explosion created a nuclear-like mushroom cloud razing to the ground the buildings in the harbour area.
The Lebanese government declared a two-week state of emergency in response to the disaster. In its aftermath, protests erupted across Lebanon against the government for their failure to prevent the disaster, joining a larger series of protests which have been taking place across the country since 2019.
Lebanon and Beirut were already bracing for political turmoil due to the country’s endemic corruption, the COVID-19 emergency and a deep economic crisis exacerbated by the pandemic. Police is investigating the causes.
Architects and designers in town have shared their first-hand accounts of the huge explosion that destroyed a large part of the city on Tuesday, with one describing the devastation as “beyond an apocalypse”. Writes Dezeen.
Among the buildings destroyed were some of Beirut’s last surviving historical quarters. Decimated were graceful rows of pastel-colored art deco apartment blocks nestled against Ottoman-era houses with trademark red roofs, high ceilings and dramatic windows capped with three pointed arches — Lebanon’s architectural signature.
The blast was felt in Turkey, Syria, Israel, Palestine and parts of Europe, and was heard in Cyprus, more than 250 km (160 mi) away. It was detected by the United States Geological Survey as a seismic event of magnitude 3.3, and is considered one of the most powerful non-nuclear explosions in history.