International News

Lebanon: huge chemicals explosion at Beirut port

There have been two huge explosions in Beirut at about 6pm local time, killing at least 78 people, including one Australian, and injured at least four thousand more. The blast, which had the force of an earthquake, has caused an enormous wave across the city and shattered windows, knocked down doors and shook buildings. While peoples' first thoughts were that the explosions were caused by a bomb, it now appears that the main blast at Beirut’s port was caused when an estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate ignited. The chemical, used in fertilizers and explosives, had been left unsecured for six years in a warehouse, after being confiscated at the port.

The explosions have devastated the city, which is in chaos. The shock waves felt in Cyprus, over 230km away. The capital's hospitals are overwhelmed and issued an urgent call for blood donations. Lebanon’s prime minister, Hassan Diab, has vowed to punish those responsible.

Victoria too has seen the devastating consequences of badly or illegally stored hazardous chemicals - it has been sheer luck that no-one has been killed.

Sources: The Guardian, BBC, etc

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