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The cause of the blast is yet to be confirmed – but it has been linked to a warehouse at the city’s port, close to populated areas, which was storing extremely dangerous explosive material. Lebanense officials are investigating exactly how the disaster happened, with the country’s prime minister vowing that those responsible for an explosion at a “dangerous” warehouse would “pay the price”. Hassan Diab said: “I promise you that this catastrophe will not pass without accountability. Those responsible will pay the price.
“Facts about this dangerous warehouse that has been there since 2014 will be announced and I will not preempt the investigations.”
The blast’s disastrous impact on the city of Beirut is evident, with foreign aid already arriving in an attempt to ease the pressure on health services in the city.
Food stocks have been destroyed and between 250,000 – 300,000 people have been left homeless.
The larger second blast is thought to have been caused by the detonation of more than 2,700 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate that had been stored in a warehouse at the port since it was confiscated from a cargo ship in 2014.
The second of the two blasts could be heard in Cyprus, more than 100 miles away.
Broken glass and debris was visible two miles away, encompassing an area where more than 750,000 people live.
Damage was seen in a radius of up to six miles away from the port – a blast which would have had an equally devastating impact in some of the world’s biggest cities.
Had the blast occurred in Central London for example, this damage would have been felt as far as Stratford to the east, Wood Green to the north and Forest Hill (near Dulwich) to the south.
If the blast had occured in New York’s central Manhattan – the roughly six-mile radius of damage would have reached as far as The Bronx.
The impact in terms of range of damage is comparable to Hiroshima – where the explosion damaged five square miles of the city.
The impact of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which occured on August 6 and August 9, 1945, were far more deadly however.
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The devastating strikes killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians.
This was also due to many who died from radiation sickness after the US attack.
The Beirut blast was also measured at 2.75 kilotons – while Hiroshima’s atomic bomb’s power was somewhere between 12 to 15 kilotons.
As Beirut tries to recover from the tragedy of this week – port officials have been placed under house arrest pending an investigation.
Opening an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday, President Michel Aoun said: “No words can describe the horror that has hit Beirut last night, turning it into a disaster-stricken city”.
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