BEIRUT BLAST HAS RAMIFICATIONS FOR THE MIDDLE EAST
Lebanon is one of the last standing bastions of multi-cultural and religious landscape of the middle-east
August 4, 2020, brought two heavy storms of damage at the port of Beirut. The recently vandalized port was the largest, busiest, and the main port in the country. Lebanon, also known as the Paris of Asia is in mourning after a massive explosion that took place in the capital city. The blast had begun with a fire at the port, followed by a small blast and ultimately, the catastrophic explosion into a mushroom-shaped cloud with a supersonic blastwave radiating throughout the city. Beirut has shaken to its core with more than 200 people dead, 3,00,000 People homeless, 6,000 injured, and 110 people still missing.
The detonation of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate had been stored for six years without safety measures in a warehouse at the port and that had sparked Lebanon's catastrophe.
Ammonium nitrate, a crystal-like white solid is made in large industrial quantities. Its biggest use is as a source of nitrogen for fertilizer. It is also used to create explosives for mining, but storing it can be dangerous as it has been associated with serious industrial accidents in the past. A huge material lying around for a long time begins to decay, over time it starts to absorb little bits of moisture and eventually turns into an enormous rock. If a fire reaches it, the chemical reacts and collaborates into a much more intense reaction.
According to the geosciences, the blast commenced with a 3.5 magnitude earthquake which was felt and heard hundreds of kilometers away in Cyprus. The blurred image of the incident depicts no clarity but the nation's major challenges. Lebanon is in turmoil due to four premier complications that include its neighbourhood, demography, poor governance, and corruption. Amid the unbridled pressure of the pandemic, the worst desolation in the history of Lebanon is the Beirut blast which is a great challenge for the nation that has been grappling with decades of struggle.
The country is lacking medical facilities due to the widespread of COVID-19, exacerbating food shortage as the city's second-largest grain elevator got destroyed and is going through a severe financial crisis. The blast has completely taken off the city with the expenses above $15 billion and insured losses of around $3 billion. The prices are going through the roof, the national currency has collapsed, the purchasing power has drastically gone down and a large part of the city has been devastated. The serious economic woe has left people stuck in poverty and restlessness.
The deadly explosion along with the negligence of the officials had reignited protests questioning the accountability and transparency of the government. After six days of the terrible incident, former Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his cabinet stepped out. The government didn't take any responsibility for the blast and clearly blamed the country's entrenched political elite. Soon, the Lebanese army also called off the rescue phase at the port because no survivors had been found.
SUSPECTS OF THE BLAST
The site of the disaster points to the most dangerously armed military and political group, the Hezbollah. There were suspicions, Hezbollah had been hiding weapons at the port which ignited and caused the warehouse to explode but the analysts tell that none of the weapons were found. The terrorist group Hezbollah did not even blame its worst enemy Israel of being responsible. The group clearly asked for a proper investigation. On Friday, Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah denied the involvement of his group in any kind of harsh activity at the port.
"People think that Hezbollah knows everything that goes on in the Beirut port. Hezbollah does not run or control Beirut's port and does not interfere with it," he said.
The explosion allows us to look into the challenges of the Middle East. Many countries are already burning and somewhere the lid has been kept tight and is waiting to explode.
After all these disasters, the sign of humanitarianism still exists as some of the International bodies have been holding fast to that.
Certain International leaders joined a virtual donor conference led by France and the United Nations. The conclusion of the conference directed $300m in humanitarian assistance that will be directly delivered to the Lebanese population. US President Donald Trump has announced that the country is ready to give substantial aid to Lebanon. France is sending planes to Beirut with rescuers, medical equipment, and a mobile clinic, for supporting the Lebanese capital devastated by a massive explosion. Surprisingly, Israel also extended its arms of humanitarian aid to a country with which it is still at war. The IMF had mentioned that the country's institutions needed to show a willingness to carry out reforms.