The Blast of Ignorance: The Blast in Beirut

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~ Aditi Bhardwaj 

As the year 2020 was going terrible and unfortunate for the people, it just got worse. A catastrophic blast happened this week in Beirut, Lebanon on 4th august 2020. It was so devastating that it seemed as if a nuclear bomb was dropped. Videos surfacing of the incident became widespread all over social media.

On that day in the afternoon, two massive Explosions occurred at the port of the city of Beirut, the second explosion was way powerful, flattening the city’s port, sending a giant orange mushroom cloud in the sky soon followed by a massive shockwave damaging the building, overturning the cars. It shook the ground of the Lebanon capital. The blast killed 200 people and injured about 6000 people as well as left 300,000 people homeless. It shattered doors and windows of buildings that were seen far away from where the blast took place. Such damage could cost the city up to $15 billion in repairs. “It felt like 15 years of war in 15 seconds”, says the Lebanon team in the united nation.

The Beirut blast was caused by the 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a chemical compound used as an agriculture fertilizer, which was stored at the port warehouse for 6 years. The occurrence of the blast is still unknown but the investigation team of Lebanon says that it was due to a nearby fire. This explosion is one of the largest accidental ammonium nitrate explosions ever recorded, it was so robust that it was felt even 200 km away in Cyprus.

Lebanon’s long-running protest

This disastrous event reignited the anti-government protests. After the Lebanon blast, the protesters hurled up in the streets and in front of the government buildings pelting stones.

The protests started in October 2019 due to the reforms imposed by the government for the 2020 budget. Public anger escalated due to an unstable economy; sectarian rule; corruption and unemployment, they also wanted a new election and new leadership. During the course, the ruling Lebanon government headed by Hassan Diab resigned. Many have accused Lebanon’s leadership of culpability of the blast through their negligence and corruption. Many officials have said that the ongoing protests were also about the environmental health conditions moreover requested the ex-government to move the chemical compound and give it to the military as it is of no use at the port of the city warning that a little mishappening can lead to a disaster, which ultimately happened due to dereliction of the ruling government. The falling of the government has given rights to the military to handle the capital until the election takes place again.

The incident was catastrophic not because of its nature or by war between the countries, it was due to the country’s negligence; superiority; being delirious and delusional about the facts and the protesters are protesting to showcase how worse they are doing to their countries health in every aspect.

It’s been more than a week since the explosion occurred and the protests inside the city have reached worldwide.

France, U.S, India as well as other countries promised to help rebuild Lebanon’s capital after the deadly explosion. Worldwide donations are being made with the motive to help people directly while their political leadership hangs by a thread in the course of protests all over the country.

India is also demonstrating solidarity by sending help to the people of Lebanon. Within a week they handed over 58 metric tonnes of humanitarian aid, including crucial medical and food supplies in the wake of the deadly explosion that shook millions. French President Emmanuel Macron offered help after the blast but said crisis-hit Lebanon would “continue to sink” unless its leaders carry out reforms.

Protesters have taken the protest in the streets by setting fire and vandalizing shops and pelting stones at the security forces, because of these acts the security forces are bound to control them and make arrests as they deem fit.

Not all people are part of the protest, many are helping people who were hit by the shockwave produced by the blast on a high scale which includes the ones who got homeless within seconds, the ones who were injured, the ones who lost their loved ones, the ones who lost their livelihood, the ones with broken windows and doors. People are sweeping the roads, cleaning the mess made by the “blast of negligence”.

Every Being in the country is angry with the former government’s act of negligence and corruption, but not everyone is participating in such protests, ruining and harming the country by pelting stones and vandalism and making the condition of the country worse than it already is. People are showing their efforts to make things a little better by providing them with food and shelter as per their capabilities.

When the news of the blast was circulated all over the world, it was devastating to read, hear, and watch the same. After the blast there was much news coming regarding it, what caught my eye and attention was the picture of a human in a wheelchair sweeping the roads and pushing the rocks aside to get the path cleared. He was also devastated but what he did was to help others even if he was suffering.

The deadly history of ammonium nitrate

The Beirut blast was the most deadly blast that occurred carrying the chemical compound  Ammonium Nitrate about 2750 tonnes of it. It looks much like a grain of salt and is very cheap but the main problem that comes with the storage of such a large amount of the same. Keeping it in a compact space and the place not best suited for it can bring hazardous effects.

Such blasts have happened in the past, being the Massive 1947 explosion in Texas City, carrying ammonium nitrate, killing approx. 600 people and injuring more than 3000,

Or in 1995, American tourist Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols used two tons of the chemical in a truck bomb attack in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. And five years ago, 800 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fueled a warehouse explosion in the Chinese city of Tianjin, killing 173 people.

None of these had ever happened if there were stability in the Country or among people, to think wisely and to take appropriate actions.

What’s next? What could be done?

 The alarming man-made disaster could have been prevented if the right government was elected or the right steps were taken. Blast of negligence an apt title that can be stated.

How to prevent such an explosion from happening is the question. Well for starters

  • The right leadership, the one who is not biased, filled with corruption, and has superiority.
  • The right form of democracy
  • The building of the trust under people
  • How to deal with hazardous chemical
  • Storage for such chemical compounds, keeping away from fuel and heat
  • Far far away from civilization where even if there is mishappening it could be prevented by not harming the living.
  • Having faith
  • Being humble

Pertaining protest in form of solidarity while helping others who suffered the most and not vandalizing.

Must Read – The Black and White Challenge 

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