Beirut explosion: What happened and what is the problem?
A massive explosion happened in the Port of Beirut, Lebanon. According to the Red Cross, there are over 100 deaths and 4000 injured. The explosion was extremely powerful, and severely damaged buildings, homes, car, and hospitals.
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
It is not entirely clear yet what sparked the explosion. However, we know that a warehouse with over 2,750 metric tons of a fertilizer (called Ammonium Nitrate) exploded. Ammonium Nitrate is a highly explosive chemical. The government is launching an investigation into what caused the initial explosion to happen.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
Before this catastrophic event, Lebanon had been struggling with multiple crises all at once.
- Economic crisis: the Lebanese economy is at its worst in decades with high unemployment rates and many people living in poverty (approx. 1/3 of the population). The Lebanese currency, called the Lebanese pound, is decreasing in value (inflation) while the prices of goods are going up a lot.
- Health crisis: there is underfunded health care, lacking infrastructure, and a shortage of medical equipment such as PPE to deal with Covid-19 and other diseases.
- Political crisis: Lebanon is undergoing a political crisis with corrupt government officials, constantly changing leaders, lack of investment in public infrastructure, and tensions with the Israeli border as well as the Syrian war. .
Source: Lebanese Red Cross, BBC, CNN, WHO, NBC, Reuters, The Guardian, NPR, Google Maps