How does this explosion compare to the Tianjin explosions in 2015?
The images coming out of Beirut are horribly reminiscent of the destruction inflicted on the Chinese city of Tianjin by a 2015 warehouse disaster that killed more than 170 people and left hundreds injured.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, has blamed today’s catastrophe on the explosion of 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which can be used to make fertilisers and explosives. And the same highly explosive compound was also involved in Tianjin, a major port city 70 miles southeast of the capital Beijing.
On the night of 12 August 2015 a series of cataclysmic detonations rocked an area of warehouses where large quantities of hazardous chemicals, also including sodium cyanide and potassium nitrate, were being stored, in some cases illegally.
Chinese authorities later claimed the first explosion had been triggered after the heat of summer caused a highly flammable compound called nitrocellulose to spontaneously ignite. Nearby stores of ammonium nitrate then caught fire and exploded.
Firefighters who rushed to the scene reportedly attempted to extinguish the initial blaze with water – only to inadvertently exacerbate the situation because of the presence of hazardous flammable chemicals. The majority of those killed were firefighters, including at least one teenager.
Such was the force of the Tianjin explosions that they registered as small earthquakes.
Then, as now, eyewitnesses filmed apocalyptic, almost surreal footage showing the scale of the inferno.
More on those comments from US President Donald Trump:
Donald Trump was just asked whether he was “confident” the Lebanon explosion was “an attack and not an accident”.
He told reporters: “Well it would seem like it, based on the explosion.” The president added he had met with US generals and said they “seem to feel that it was”.
“They seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind, yes,” he said.
Trump’s assessment contradicts the information coming out of Lebanon
Trump says explosion ‘looks like a terrible attack’
Donald Trump has said the deadly explosion in Beirut today “looks like a terrible attack”.
“The United States stands ready to assist Lebanon. We have a very good relationship with the people of Lebanon, and we will be there to help,” Trump said as he opened the daily White House coronavirus press conference on Tuesday. “It looks like a terrible attack,” he added.
The president did not immediately elaborate. It was unclear whether Trump’s comments were just his view, or based on an intelligence briefing.
Lebanon’s security chief, Abbas Ibrahim, has blamed combustible chemicals stored in a warehouse. The interior minister, Mohammed Fahmi, said ammonium nitrate had been among the materials stored and called for an investigation into how it ignited.
Death toll climbs to 78 with 4,000 injured
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