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Old 4th August 2020, 09:19 AM   #1
chrispy
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Massive Blast in Lebanon

Details still murky, but local reports are that it is an accident. But given the timing...

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-53656220

video

https://www.businessinsider.com/vide...-beirut-2020-8
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Old 4th August 2020, 09:37 AM   #2
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Original reports said it was 'ahead of the Harari verdict' so it was initially assumed to be some kind of terror attack. However, it is now becoming clear that a fire at the port spread to a fireworks warehouse and also sparked off a warehouse storing benzine.

Really shocking. I know people who live there and I hope and pray they are OK. There are likely to be many casualties but hopefully, as with many docklands areas, it won't be too built-up.
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Old 4th August 2020, 09:38 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
Original reports said it was 'ahead of the Harari verdict' so it was initially assumed to be some kind of terror attack. However, it is now becoming clear that a fire at the port spread to a fireworks warehouse and also sparked off a warehouse storing benzine.

Really shocking. I know people who live there and I hope and pray they are OK. There are likely to be many casualties but hopefully, as with many docklands areas, it won't be too built-up.
Yeah. Seeing that too. Looks like fireworks went up and spread. Scary video
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Old 4th August 2020, 09:42 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
Original reports said it was 'ahead of the Harari verdict' so it was initially assumed to be some kind of terror attack. However, it is now becoming clear that a fire at the port spread to a fireworks warehouse and also sparked off a warehouse storing benzine.

Really shocking. I know people who live there and I hope and pray they are OK. There are likely to be many casualties but hopefully, as with many docklands areas, it won't be too built-up.
What, no conspiracy this time?
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Old 4th August 2020, 09:53 AM   #5
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Holy smoke! That shock wave makes it look like a small nuke going off! Dang.
The aftermath footage looks pretty devastating, but I don't know how close to the blast that was taken from.
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Old 4th August 2020, 10:03 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
What, no conspiracy this time?
There are some reports that it is a Hezbollah missile and others that the mushroom cloud effect points to something stronger than a 'fireworks explosion' alone, possibly some highly explosive materials stored underground.

Don't shoot me, this is what Israeli intelligence is purportedly saying.
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Old 4th August 2020, 10:05 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mike! View Post
Holy smoke! That shock wave makes it look like a small nuke going off! Dang.
The aftermath footage looks pretty devastating, but I don't know how close to the blast that was taken from.
Apparently an explosion in the fireworks factory caused a sudden aeration of particulate in all the canisters in the adjacent silos and thus a hugely powerful blast.
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Old 4th August 2020, 10:45 AM   #8
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Seen a few different videos of the blast via twitter - the first fire definitely fireworks - but the second, massive blast that tore through the area was something else. Something like that would be magnificent, except it's in a city so it's actually horrifying watching buildings just flat out vanish in the blast.
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Old 4th August 2020, 10:51 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Mumbles View Post
Seen a few different videos of the blast via twitter - the first fire definitely fireworks - but the second, massive blast that tore through the area was something else. Something like that would be magnificent, except it's in a city so it's actually horrifying watching buildings just flat out vanish in the blast.
Think of it as a flour bomb - lots of small combustible particles in the air, sudden ignition. I've done this on a small scale with a bag of flour, it's quite spectacular. There's a reason there are warnings about naked flames near empty grain silos.

Multiply that effect by 1 million plus, and you've got this truly massive explosion.
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Old 4th August 2020, 10:53 AM   #10
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The Guardian has this footage posted, showing the secondary (larger) detonation.

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Old 4th August 2020, 11:10 AM   #11
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I could buy this being a benzene explosion. That's stuff is some serious disaster-juice. Last year a somewhat smaller-scale benzene explosion in Yancheng, China, killed 64 people and caused similar physical devastation to the nearby area.

That vivid red smoke over the aftermath is curious. I wonder if it can help nail down the chemical involved in the explosion.
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Old 4th August 2020, 11:29 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by EvilBiker View Post
Think of it as a flour bomb - lots of small combustible particles in the air, sudden ignition. I've done this on a small scale with a bag of flour, it's quite spectacular. There's a reason there are warnings about naked flames near empty grain silos.

Multiply that effect by 1 million plus, and you've got this truly massive explosion.
I considered that, along with "benzine container". Definitely not a nuke - those cause EMPs that would knock out cell towers, cell phones themselves, etc.

Their Interior Ministry is saying no fatalities. I could understand no *known* fatalities, because you're not going to get into there for a while.
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Old 4th August 2020, 11:41 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mumbles View Post
I considered that, along with "benzine container". Definitely not a nuke - those cause EMPs that would knock out cell towers, cell phones themselves, etc.

Their Interior Ministry is saying no fatalities. I could understand no *known* fatalities, because you're not going to get into there for a while.
Super scary explosion. There will be fatalities.
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Old 4th August 2020, 11:42 AM   #14
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Quote:
Lebanon's Head of General Security says the blast was caused by a fire in a depot of highly explosive material, including Sodium nitrate, at Beirut's port. He said that material was confiscated from a ship months ago and stored there.
Source

This tweet shows some of the devastation at the port.

Sodium nitrate - yeah, that'll do it. Sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate were involved in the 2015 Tianjin disaster.
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Old 4th August 2020, 11:44 AM   #15
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I don't think a terror attack would consist of two different explosions. "Hey, let's blow up this thing and then hope it detonates this other thing," doesn't seem like a good plan.

I can certainly see the standards for storing hazardous materials not being nearly so stringent in Lebanon than they are (hopefully) here.

And yet, sadly, this is going to give CTists and extremists plenty of reasons to blame Israel.
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Old 4th August 2020, 11:46 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
Source

This tweet shows some of the devastation at the port.

Sodium nitrate - yeah, that'll do it. Sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate were involved in the 2015 Tianjin disaster.
Surprised those silos are still standing. Must have been designed and constructed with explosion resistance as a requirement.
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Old 4th August 2020, 11:50 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
And yet, sadly, this is going to give CTists and extremists plenty of reasons to blame Israel.
Not locally, it seems. Odd really.
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Old 4th August 2020, 12:01 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
Not locally, it seems. Odd really.
Hezbollah itself is already on record denying that it was an Israeli strike. I guess when both Israel and Hezbollah agree, there isn't much room left for speculation along those lines.
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Old 4th August 2020, 12:05 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
Hezbollah itself is already on record denying that it was an Israeli strike. I guess when both Israel and Hezbollah agree, there isn't much room left for speculation along those lines.

Well, that's a relief to hear.
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Old 4th August 2020, 12:05 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
I don't think a terror attack would consist of two different explosions. "Hey, let's blow up this thing and then hope it detonates this other thing," doesn't seem like a good plan.

I can certainly see the standards for storing hazardous materials not being nearly so stringent in Lebanon than they are (hopefully) here.

And yet, sadly, this is going to give CTists and extremists plenty of reasons to blame Israel.
Texas has had a number of such explosions in chemical plants.
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Old 4th August 2020, 12:08 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
Hezbollah itself is already on record denying that it was an Israeli strike. I guess when both Israel and Hezbollah agree, there isn't much room left for speculation along those lines.
I meant local as in "around these parts", as in "among CTist at the ISF who have already posted in this thread."
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Old 4th August 2020, 12:11 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
I meant local as in "around these parts", as in "among CTist at the ISF who have already posted in this thread."
Oh, my mistake. In that case now that you mention it, it does seem odd. Maybe we just haven't waited long enough.
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Old 4th August 2020, 12:13 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
Oh, my mistake. In that case now that you mention it, it does seem odd. Maybe we just haven't waited long enough.
It is said that patience is a virtue.
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Old 4th August 2020, 12:24 PM   #24
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Scary, looks like something like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halifax_Explosion
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Old 4th August 2020, 12:24 PM   #25
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BBC now reporting “dozens dead and thousands injured“. This is shaping up to be a real catastrophe.
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Old 4th August 2020, 12:26 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by llwyd View Post
Scary, looks like something like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halifax_Explosion
Yes indeed! My initial impression is that Lebanon today may be comparable. Seems that there was an awful lot of people in the blast zone.
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Old 4th August 2020, 12:30 PM   #27
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The numbers I've seen so far are 27 dead, 2,200 reporting injuries per the Red Crescent. Doubtless that number includes people injured by glass far from the explosion itself; there's no breakdown yet of the severity.
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Old 4th August 2020, 12:33 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
The numbers I've seen so far are 27 dead, 2,200 reporting injuries per the Red Crescent. Doubtless that number includes people injured by glass far from the explosion itself; there's no breakdown yet of the severity.
There will be much adjustment to those numbers over the next few hours. Sadly, they will never decrease.
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Old 4th August 2020, 12:58 PM   #29
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A couple of more perspectives of the incident and the aftermath:

https://streamable.com/xmmoa7

https://streamable.com/zbjj5f

https://streamable.com/saoafz

https://streamable.com/mcy82f

https://streamable.com/4ga1vb

https://streamable.com/22e152

That second video is viscerally terrifying to me.
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Old 4th August 2020, 01:04 PM   #30
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According to the 'General Security Chief':

Quote:
General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim said: 'It appears that there is a warehouse containing material that was confiscated years ago, and it appears that it was highly explosive material.'

Translated: **** me, Hezbollah has shot itself in the foot! But let's pretend it was sodium nitrate...stored next to a fireworks factory. Totally innocuous. Just a small flour bomb.
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Old 4th August 2020, 01:22 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
A couple of more perspectives of the incident and the aftermath:

https://streamable.com/xmmoa7

https://streamable.com/zbjj5f

https://streamable.com/saoafz

https://streamable.com/mcy82f

https://streamable.com/4ga1vb

https://streamable.com/22e152

That second video is viscerally terrifying to me.
That is terrifying. I am amazed that anyone nearby lived at all.
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Old 4th August 2020, 01:38 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
There will be much adjustment to those numbers over the next few hours. Sadly, they will never decrease.
Yup - latest I saw was 70 dead, people being transported to other cities for treatment because Beiruit hopsitals are overwhelmed by the number of injured. I don't think it's an overstatment to call this catastrophic - that's almost MOAB-level destruction. My condolences to the victims, and their families and friends.

On the other hand, this Twitter account also shows some awesome parents as well as the devastation

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Old 4th August 2020, 01:58 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
According to the 'General Security Chief':




Translated: **** me, Hezbollah has shot itself in the foot! But let's pretend it was sodium nitrate...stored next to a fireworks factory. Totally innocuous. Just a small flour bomb.
The red smoke is indicative of a sodium nitrate explosion.

Nitrates are responsible for some of the largest non-nuclear explosions on the modern record, including for instance the AZF explosion in Toulouse, France in 2001 that killed 29 people and injured 2,500.
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Old 4th August 2020, 02:20 PM   #34
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Does anyone here know about proper sorage for such chemicals? Is there some of international standard?
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Old 4th August 2020, 02:29 PM   #35
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73 confirmed dead now, but I suspect that number is going to rise significantly.
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Old 4th August 2020, 02:29 PM   #36
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Evidently, the Lebanon security minister's statement about masses of ammonium nitrate having been confiscated from a ship and stored at the port is corroborated by historical articles.

In 2014, a Russian-operated ship, m/v Rhosus, while destined elsewhere called at Beirut due presumably to mechanical issues. After an inspection by Lebanon's maritime authority the vessel was arrested there, and most of the crew deported. In the meantime the vessel's owner/operator abandoned it and the customer of interest in the cargo of ammonium nitrate likewise abandoned their interest. This led to a serious legal standoff in which Lebanon did not want to take possession of the vessel and its volatile cargo and so refused to let the remaining crew leave.

The crew eventually obtained legal representation which successfully convinced a Lebanese court to free the crew, and the ammonium nitrate was "discharged into the port's warehouses" - some 2,750 tons of it. Interestingly, their principal legal argument was the threat to the crews' lives as the nature of the cargo meant the crew was being forced to essentially sit atop an enormous bomb that could go off at any time.
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Old 4th August 2020, 02:32 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Mike! View Post
Holy smoke! That shock wave makes it look like a small nuke going off! Dang.
The aftermath footage looks pretty devastating, but I don't know how close to the blast that was taken from.
Two and a half thousand tonnes of AN will do that. There are less powerful nuclear options.
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Old 4th August 2020, 02:41 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by chrispy View Post
Does anyone here know about proper sorage for such chemicals? Is there some of international standard?
This is exactly what I was wondering. Why was it being stored so close to a large population?
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Old 4th August 2020, 02:46 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by chrispy View Post
Does anyone here know about proper sorage for such chemicals? Is there some of international standard?
Oh yes, there have been standards for decades due to AN being both very common (it's the most used fertiliser) and somewhat prone to explode.
There are well defined requirements of fire prevention (it burns easily), ventilation (it forms nitrous oxide on decomposition), contact materials (no galvanised iron, copper, lead, or zinc), temperature (under 55 Celsius)/
Dumping fifty thousand sacks in a random warehouse for a few years and ignoring it is generally a bad idea.
There are dozens of examples of AN detonations, some larger than this one.
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Old 4th August 2020, 02:47 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by portlandatheist View Post
This is exactly what I was wondering. Why was it being stored so close to a large population?
I'd guess something along these lines.
"We need to put this stuff somewhere"
"Use that empty warehouse over there"
Followed by no-one taking responsibility. It happens.
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