Lebanon- a country on a cliffhanger


The whole world is going through a pandemic right now, and the end is nowhere in sight. In such times, a middle eastern country like Lebanon is fighting an epidemic, tackling political unrest, an unprecedented economic crisis, and famine. The mere thought of going through one of these is a horrendous imagination. The middle eastern countries have always been at war, mostly, but this time it is pretty internal.

Lebanon- a country on a cliffhanger
Lebanon- a country on a cliffhanger

Facing disastrous consequences of physical, mental, and economic war has made the people vulnerable and more resistant at the same time. However, the exact reasons behind the blast haven’t been found yet.

An explosion in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, shook not only the nation but the entire world. On Tuesday (4.08.2020), the video of a massive explosion (like that after a nuclear blast) went viral on the internet which created immense panic. A massive fire was seen at the port of Beirut, on the city’s northern Mediterranean coast. After around 6 pm local time, a warehouse at the port became alight and a massive explosion followed by small explosions destroyed establishments within seconds. Abode of approximately 2 million people, the capital has become dysfunctional.

President Michel Aoun notified that the explosion outburst happened due to 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in a warehouse, which was seized and unloaded in 2013. He said that investigation about the same would be carried out thoroughly and the guilty will not be spared. The shock of the blast was felt 240 kilometers away from the area in Cyprus and tremors worth a 4.5 magnitude earthquake was also felt. According to sources, around 160 people have lost their lives, 5000 have been injured, and about 3,00,000 people have become homeless.

Public Health minister Hamad Hassan said that the country is already going through a crisis in terms of providing medical aid as the coronavirus cases are insurgent and the hospitals are having a difficult time coping with the whole situation. Saint George’s hospital has been destroyed, and two other hospitals have also been shut, leaving only one hospital functional. There is a shortage of beds, emergency supplies, and the staff is insufficient as well. Much of the staff lost their lives in the blast which has added to the casualties.

Before and after pictures of the surrounding areas and buildings are being circulated all over the internet. This includes Mohammad Al Amin mosque, Shocks shopping district, hospitals, and especially the port area. Complete and partial destruction makes it impossible to look at the pictures and worse to imagine the brunt of devastation that will be faced by the people there.

The port area where the grain silos and every possible supply, including medicines and grocery, were stored, has been poorly destroyed which has affected even the usual routine of the Lebanese people. Now that the port is non- functional, the maritime trade will be shifted to the second biggest city, Tripoli. Reportedly, Qatar, Kuwait, and Jordan will send field hospitals to provide maximum aid. According to research,  the grain in the silos absorbed many components and reduced the mass of the explosion; otherwise, it could have been way worse.

What are the properties of the chemical responsible for the blast? Ammonium Nitrate.

Ammonium Nitrate is mainly used as a chemical fertilizer for agricultural purposes. It is also used as an explosive in mining fields. It is not an explosive on its own. It triggers under the right circumstances. Due to its explosion, harmful gases like ammonia and nitrogen oxides are released. There are certain sets of instructions that have to be followed before storing the chemical. It shouldn’t build up in drains or pipes as that might lead to its explosion.

The aftermath of the blast on people

Inflation- After abundant supplies getting destroyed in the blast, food security has been endangered, and the prices of the essential commodities are soaring higher and higher. The value of the Lebanese pound has been reduced up to 86% since October 2019, and it will reduce further due to a shortage of resources. The inflation rate of Lebanon is the third highest in the world right now.

Chances of famine and shortage of resources- The country was already going through a crisis before the unprecedented explosion. The economic crisis and scarcity of resources were already prevalent in the country. Now that the main post through which trade happened has been destroyed, it will take a long time to get back on foot.

What is being done to provide aid to Beirut by the world?

WHO, IFRC, and other organizations are doing everything possible to provide aid, right from installing help stations and sending emergency and health equipment. French President Emmanuel Macron himself visited Beirut and promised that the aid wouldn’t go in the wrong hands and has also announced a fundraising conference. Along with that, ten emergency doctors, 6 tonnes of health equipment, and 55 security personnel will also be provided. Britain is giving aid of 5 million pounds ($ 6.6 million), search and rescue help, and expert medical support as well. Cyprus will be providing two helicopters, ten rescuers, and eight rescue dogs. Medical supplies will also be provided through a chartered plane. The Czech Republic will be sending a team of 36 people. Denmark will be sending 600 chemical protective suits for help in search and rescue.

Qatar, Turkey, Russia, Tunisia, EU, Norway, Poland, Kuwait, Netherlands, Italy, Iraq, Iran, and many other countries are providing rescue and search teams of personnel and