Authorities say the tragedy in the capital city of Lebanon may have been caused by a large amount of ammonium nitrate being stored in a warehouse
The Prime Minister of Lebanon has called for a day of national mourning on Wednesday after a huge explosive blast has killed at least 100 people in the capital city of Beirut and injured more than 4,000 people.
Fireworks, as well as ammonium nitrate, appear to have been the fuel that ignited the colossal explosion that hit the Lebanese capital of Beirut, experts and videos of the blast suggest.
Hassan Diab has said that his country was experiencing “a real catastrophe” and continued by saying that those who are responsible for the tragedy would pay the price for their crimes.
He tweeted that the blast that took place on Tuesday was caused by over 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been left unsecured at a warehouse near the city’s port for six years.
Fady Roumieh was standing in a car park east of the blast and said it was “like a nuclear bomb”.
“The damage is so widespread and severe all over the city,” said the Beirut resident.
“Some buildings as far as 2km are partially collapsed. It’s like a war zone. The damage is extreme. Not one glass window intact.”
Online videos of the initial moments of the tragic event have shown sparks and lights inside the smoke that was rising from the blaze, just before the massive blast and subsequent shockwave occurs.
Boaz Hayoun, the owner of the Tamar Group, an Israeli company that works on safety and certification issues closely with the Israeli government involving explosives, has said this likely indicates that fireworks were involved in the blast.
Mr Hayoun said: “Before the big explosion, you can see in the centre of the fire, you can see sparks, you can hear sounds like popcorn and you can hear whistles.
“This is very specific behaviour of fireworks, the visuals, the sounds and the transformation from a slow burn to a massive explosion.”
Jeffrey Lewis, a missile expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, offered a similar assessment. He said:
“It looks like an accident.”
“First, there was a fire preceding the explosion, which is not an attack. And some of the videos show munitions what I could call popcorning, exploding like ’pop, pop, pop, pop.'”
He added that “it’s very common to see fires detonate explosives.”
“If you have a fire raging next to something explosive, and you don’t put it out, it blows up.”
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