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Australia The explosion in Beirut was a massive store of ammonium nitrate blowing up. Here's what else we know

07:20  05 august  2020
07:20  05 august  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

Explosions in Beirut: what is ammonium nitrate?

 Explosions in Beirut: what is ammonium nitrate? © Anwar AMRO / AFP A thick plume of orange smoke rises from the port of Beirut at the end of the afternoon, August 4, 2020, after the explosion of a warehouse containing ammonium nitrate . If the precise cause of the two blasts which devastated the port and a large part of the Lebanese capital on Tuesday August 4 at 6 p.m. remains unknown, it is established that it is a warehouse storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that was used as 'explosive.

Here ' s what else we know . Posted 12mminutes agoWedWednesday 5 AugAugust 2020 at 1:58 am , updated 7mminutes agoWedWednesday 5 AugAugust But Lebanon' s Interior Minister said the blast was a store of about 2,750 tonnes of seized ammonium nitrate blowing up . It had been in storage

Interior minister says ammonium nitrate likely caused at least one explosion amid reports hospitals too damaged to treat patients. Video shows a massive explosion rocking central Beirut , shattering windows, knocking down doors The aftermath of a massive explosion is seen in Beirut , Lebanon.

Video of a massive explosion tearing through Beirut makes for shocking viewing.

Here's what we know about the blast.

Where did it happen?

The explosion was at Beirut's shipping port district, which is close to the city's CBD.

What caused it?

What sparked the explosion is still unknown.

But Lebanon's Interior Minister said the blast was a store of about 2,750 tonnes of seized ammonium nitrate blowing up.

It had been in storage since 2014, but the details about why it was seized and where it came from are unclear.

Beirut blast: Tracing the explosives that tore apart the capital

  Beirut blast: Tracing the explosives that tore apart the capital Customs correspondence raises questions about negligence that may have led to the massive blast in Lebanon's capital.The detonation of the material - used in bombs and fertilisers - sent shockwaves through the Lebanese capital, killing scores of people, injuring thousands, and leaving much of the city a mangled mess.

The ammonium nitrate had reportedly been unloaded from a ship impounded at the port in 2013 Image caption The explosion blew out windows miles away. "All the buildings around here have The army said to stay away in case there was a second explosion . "There was still smoke going up into

Video shows a massive explosion rocking central Beirut , shattering windows, knocking down doors and shaking buildings Mohamed Fehmi has just told the MTV Lebanon channel the explosion appeared to have been caused by “huge quantities of ammonium nitrate ” being stored at the port.

So, was it an accident then?

It's still too early to say.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said it was unacceptable such a large quantity of explosive material was stored in a warehouse for six years without safety measures.

During a televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said details about the "dangerous warehouse" would be made public.

He said an investigation taskforce had been set up to find out who was responsible for the blast within five days.

The explosion came amid ongoing tensions between Israel and the Hezbollah military group on Lebanon's southern border, and some residents reportedly heard planes overhead just before the blast, fuelling rumours of an attack.

AP reported that it was common for Israeli warplanes to fly over parts of Lebanon.

Lebanon blast: Ammonium nitrate behind many industrial accidents

  Lebanon blast: Ammonium nitrate behind many industrial accidents When combined with fuel and oil, ammonium nitrate creates a potent explosive widely used in the construction industry.Notable among these was an explosion at a fertiliser plant in the US state of Texas 2013 that killed 15 and was ruled deliberate, and another at a chemical plant in Toulouse, France, in 2001 that killed 31 people but was accidental.

Interior minister says ammonium nitrate likely caused at least one explosion amid reports hospitals too damaged to treat patients. Marwan Abboud, the governor of Beirut , has arrived at the site of the explosion , where he broke down The aftermath of a massive explosion is seen in Beirut , Lebanon.

Interior minister says ammonium nitrate likely caused at least one explosion amid reports hospitals too This backs up what the custom’ s director-general was quoted as saying to another Lebanese news channel, Al Mayadeen. The aftermath of a massive explosion is seen in Beirut , Lebanon.

But Israel denied any involvement, and offered help in the wake of the blast.

At a White House briefing, US President Donald Trump said he was told by military officials it seemed to be an attack.

"I've met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel that this was not some kind of manufacturing explosion type of an event ... They seem to think it was an attack," Mr Trump said.

"It was a bomb of some kind."

But two US officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to Reuters, said it was unclear where Mr Trump was receiving his information.

They said initial information did not appear to show the explosion was an attack, and tracked closer to what Lebanese officials had publicly stated.

The US officials added that it was still early and the information could change as time went on.

What is ammonium nitrate?

Ammonium nitrate is the ammonium salt derived from nitric acid, a corrosive substance which is toxic when inhaled.

Lebanon gov't declares emergency in Beirut after deadly explosion

  Lebanon gov't declares emergency in Beirut after deadly explosion Dozens remain missing after huge explosion sent shock waves through Lebanese capital, as death toll rises to 135.About 5,000 people were wounded in the blast and rescue workers continued the search for survivors on Wednesday, combing through the wreckage of buildings. Dozens of people remained missing and the death toll was expected to rise.

Interior minister says ammonium nitrate likely caused at least one explosion amid reports hospitals too damaged to treat patients. Marwan Abboud, the governor of Beirut , has arrived at the site of the explosion , where he broke down The aftermath of a massive explosion is seen in Beirut , Lebanon.

Interior minister says ammonium nitrate likely caused at least one explosion amid reports hospitals too damaged to treat patients. Marwan Abboud, the governor of Beirut , has arrived at the site of the explosion , where he broke down The aftermath of a massive explosion is seen in Beirut , Lebanon.

It is used in fertilisers and explosives, as well as a nutrient to produce yeast and some antibiotics.

In Queensland, for example, 99 per cent of ammonium nitrate is used for explosives in the mining sector, while the other 1 per cent is used for fertiliser.

The substance can react violently to incompatible materials.

It accelerates the burning of combustible material and can be very dangerous when exposed to high temperatures and contaminants, including metals such as chromium and copper.

There are strict safety guidelines for storing the substance in Australia.

Is the situation still dangerous?

Yes.

The US embassy in Beirut warned residents about reports of toxic gases released by the blast.

People were urged to stay indoors and wear masks.

How far away was the blast felt?

The force of the explosion was the equivalent to a magnitude 3.5 earthquake, Germany's geosciences centre GFZ said.

It could be heard and felt as far away as Cyprus, about 200 kilometres across the Mediterranean.

Buildings were destroyed in the port district, with the shockwave shattering windows, overturning vehicles and blowing in doors across the city.

People filming from buildings 2 kilometres from the port were thrown backwards by the shock.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia's embassy had been "impacted significantly" in the explosion.

"We can report all of the staff there are well, but the building that the embassy is in has been significantly compromised," he said.

Where did those videos come from?

Shocking videos of the blast were shared on social media not long after the explosion.

Many were filming after noticing a large plume of smoke at the site. The explosion occurred after the initial flames and sparks were seen.

ABC/Wires

Beirut blast: who knew what, when? .
Up until the eve of the deadly Beirut blast, Lebanese officials exchanged warnings over a dangerous chemical shipment in the port, but did nothing despite experts' fears it could cause a massive conflagration. On August 3, a day before a huge stock of ammonium nitrate exploded and ravaged swathes of Lebanon's capital, the public works minister received a letter. It came from the Supreme Defence Council and alerted him to a large quantity of ammonium nitrate -- a dual-use chemical compound used mainly as a fertiliser -- stocked in a warehouse at the port.

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