What is a sympathetic detonation

Beirut: Violent explosion caused damage to half the city

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The essentials in brief:

  • According to the governor of Beirut, the half city affected by damage from the explosion. Between 200,000 and 250,000 residents should therefore be yours Lost accommodations to have. According to government data are As of Wednesday afternoon, at least 135 deaths were reported. At least 4,000 people were injured Health Minister Hamad Hassan said.
  • According to Prime Minister Hassan Diab were in the port of the city 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored that could have led to the explosion.
  • There were initially no indications of an attack. US President Donald Trump spoke but from a bombing raid. Due to the nature of the detonation, his generals would not assume an accident was occurring. US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper spoke of an accident.
  • Also the building of the Austrian Embassy has been damaged.
  • Those 180 Austrian soldiers who are stationed in Lebanon as part of a UN mission were not affected by the explosion.
  • Came quickly Offers of help from several countries, including Israel, which is officially still at war with Lebanon.

The devastating explosion in the port of the Lebanese capital Beirut destroyed the homes of tens of thousands of people. Beirut's governor Marwan Abboud told MTV on Wednesday that 200,000 to 250,000 residents had lost their homes. The damage is between three and five billion dollars, said Abboud, according to the NNA news agency.

According to government information, the number of deaths rose to at least 135 on Wednesday afternoon. At least 4,000 people were injured, said Health Minister Hamad Hassan. Dozens of people are still missing and the search for survivors is ongoing.

At least two serious explosions had occurred in the port of the coastal city on Tuesday. There were also warehouses for high-explosive chemicals there. The exact cause of the explosion was initially unknown, the security authorities suspected outdated explosive material in the storage facilities as the trigger - this is apparently 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate. The material had been stored in a warehouse for six years without any precautions. Government security chief Abbas Ibrahim said the ammonium nitrate was confiscated at the time. There were initially no indications of an attack or a political background. Italian civil defense is sending 14 experts to Beirut to help assess chemical and bacterial hazards, as well as examine damaged structures.


There was chaos in the city itself, an eyewitness told STANDARD on Tuesday evening. There was rubble on the streets near the port, and blood could be seen everywhere.

Shortly after 6 p.m. local time, a large cloud of smoke rose over the city, followed immediately by a strong pressure wave that destroyed entire houses. Even at a distance of kilometers, glass windows shattered and people were injured. Reuters reports that the explosion was felt even in Cyprus, 180 kilometers away. President Michael Aoun called an emergency meeting of the National Defense Council for Tuesday evening, which immediately declared a state of emergency for two weeks.

The Lebanese army helped bring the injured to hospitals. The capital's hospitals are full, however, and more victims would have to be transported to facilities in the suburbs, Health Minister Hassan Hamad said on Tuesday. Firefighters were still fighting the flames at the site of the explosion in the late evening hours. According to the Ministry of Health, many people were still missing on Tuesday evening.

The port is only a few kilometers from the city center. Large parts of the area were completely destroyed - according to media reports, grain stores that are also important for supplying the population. The cruise ship "Orient Queen" also sank.

The government has meanwhile placed those responsible in the port under house arrest. These are people who have been responsible for the storage and guarding of the 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate in recent years, said Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad on Wednesday after a cabinet meeting.

According to the minister, the government also decided on a two-week emergency for Beirut. A commission of inquiry should submit an initial report on the circumstances of the detonation to the cabinet within five days, said Abdel Samad.

Trump speaks of a "bomb attack"

US President Donald Trump spoke of a bomb attack in connection with the explosion. Due to the nature of the detonation, his generals would not assume an accident was occurring. "They think it looks like an attack. Like some kind of bomb," Trump said at a press conference in the White House on Tuesday.

However, neither the Pentagon nor the Lebanese authorities received any public indications that the attack might have been an attack. US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper described the tragedy in Beirut as an "accident". The information available did not allow a conclusive picture, but "most" sources assumed an accident, said Esper.

Austrian embassy damaged

The Austrian embassy in Beirut was also affected by the explosions: "The embassy building in Achrafieh was damaged, and it is currently not clear whether the embassy will be able to function as an office in the next few days," writes the diplomatic mission on its Facebook page.

The embassy can be reached around the clock via an emergency telephone number, it is emphasized: "If you are looking for relatives or if you have learned that Austrian citizens are injured by this disaster in Beirut or need help, please contact the embassy by telephone under the following numbers: +961 1 213 052 or +961 1 213 017 ", so the message. Until Wednesday morning, however, there was no evidence that Austrians were injured, said the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Peter Guschelbauer, the APA.

A UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (Unifil) was also damaged in the explosion, and several blue helmets are said to have been injured. The Unifil troops have been monitoring the border area between Lebanon and Israel since 1978. Among them is an Austrian contingent of around 180 soldiers who are mainly deployed in land transport.

Armed Forces soldiers not affected

Around 180 Austrian soldiers are stationed in Lebanon as part of the UN mission. These are all "safe and sound" and were in no way involved in the devastating explosions, Defense Department spokesman Michael Bauer told APA on Wednesday. The armed forces camp is around two hours' drive from Beirut in Naqoura.

The armed forces themselves could not offer help with the emergency measures, said Bauer. This offer would have to come from the UN. "The thoughts of the Unifil troops are with those affected," wrote Bauer on Twitter. According to the Bundesheer website, the Austrian soldiers are helping with more than a hundred vehicles (including off-road vehicles, semi-trailers, buses, recovery, fire-fighting vehicles and tankers) "to calm the situation in Lebanon and to ensure safety for the population".

Day of mourning

Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared Wednesday the day of national mourning in memory of the victims. He also promised to "hold those responsible to account". Both the EU and a number of other states promised aid to Lebanon.

Among them were Israel and Iran, which were rarely unanimous. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel also expressed her condolences to the relatives of the dead and offered support. Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen said via Twitter, "Our thoughts are with the people in Lebanon, with the injured and the families of the victims".

The Gulf States were among the first countries to pledge their aid. Qatar wants to send field hospitals to care for the thousands of injured. Kuwait promised to send emergency medical aid. Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said his country was ready to give any help Lebanon now needs.

Israel offers help

Iran made a similar statement. His country also prayed for the "great and resilient people of Lebanon," tweeted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, adding: "Stay strong, Lebanon."

Even Israel, which is still formally at war with its neighbors, offered humanitarian aid: Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi "offered medical, humanitarian and immediate emergency aid" through international mediators, it said in a statement.

In a gesture of solidarity, the Lebanese flag was projected onto the city hall in Tel Aviv, Israel on Wednesday evening. "Humanity is more important than any conflict," wrote Mayor Ron Huldai in the short message service Twitter. "Our hearts are with the Lebanese people."

A country in crisis

Lebanon has been in a deep crisis for months. Mass protests against the government have been taking place regularly since October, and the Lebanese pound has lost around 80 percent of its value against the dollar in recent months. Thousands of businesses have closed and power outages have become the norm.

In addition, the situation on the country's southern border has come to a head: in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, the Lebanese government recently decided to lodge a complaint with the UN Security Council. Prime Minister Diab accuses Israel of violating Lebanon's sovereignty.

According to the United Nations, the great damage in Beirut could also affect the situation of many people in Syria. The port will be used to transship humanitarian aid for the civil war area, said a spokesman in New York on Wednesday. "This will affect our ability to provide support in Syria. (Fmo, red, 5.8.2020)