beirut by Bernarda Chiriboga August 5, 2020
Massive fires terrorizing Australia. Rising anxieties of a possible third world war. The melancholy of losing a legend. A global pandemic threatening humanity. And, the widespread anger of long-standing social injustice. 2020 has surely been a wild ride.
But, right when things seem to stabilize, a massive explosion ripped the city of Beirut.
So far…[Not] so good.
On Tuesday, August 4th, a giant mushroom cloud erupted in the port area of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut.
A sea of wreckage homes, businesses, and buildings flooded over the city. More than 300 thousand people are now left homeless, 5,000 have reported injured and 135 have died.
The Government Palace, home of Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab, was damaged and this wife and daughter have been reported injured.
Hospitals struggle to attend the streams of wounded people. Meanwhile, doctors perform surgeries with smartphones in the open air and, rescue workers save those who have been trapped under their damaged homes.
The country, which already faced food insecurity, lost 85% of its grained located in Silos. Now, more than ever Lebanon relies on imports for around 80% of what it consumes, especially food.
Now, high levels of nitrogen oxides become even more problematic for those with respiratory issues. Not to mention that ammonia can potentially cause the respiratory tract to burn to result in blindness, lung damage, or death.
All these while battling the consequences con COVID-19.
The roaring blast, which was heard 125 miles across the sea of Cyprus, shook the earth with the power of a 3.3-magnitude earthquake. It rattled the entire world with an enormous wave of shock and mourn.
The explosion erupted in the port of Lebanon, where 2,750 kilotons of ammonium nitrate had been stored in a warehouse.
It all began in 2013, when a Russian-lead cargo ship, destined to Mozambique, made an unscheduled stop at Beirut’s port. The Rhosus (ship), carried a volatile cargo; 2,750 kilotons of ammonium nitrate, chemicals used for fertilizer and…Bombs!
The Rhosus, a Moldovan flagged ship sailing to Mozambique, which called to into the port of Beirut in 2013, is the likely source of the 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that triggered the explosion yesterday #Lebanon pic.twitter.com/2SOwUpJfQh
— Michael A. Horowitz (@michaelh992) August 5, 2020
The ship was declared unseaworthy due to its poor conditions. Consequently, the owner Igor Grechushkin embroiled himself in several financial and political disputes. Thus, abandoning the ship and its combustible material at the port of Beirut, in Lebanon.
So, the cargo was stored in Beirut’s port warehouse was for at least 6 years lacking safety measures.
While Lebanese authorities try to blame the Russian’s for the event, people range is focused on the negligence of the authorities who were aware of the danger that 2.720 tons of ammonium nitrate, yet failed to act.
Already battling with the devastations of the “you-who-who” (virus) and, a political turmoil that has left the country with a deep economic crisis, the blast comes during sensitive times.
Before the explosion dismantled the city once and for all, Lebanon hosted poverty, disease, anger, hunger, and anxiety.
The hyperinflation of the Lebanese pound (compared to the dollar) had lost 85% of its value since October — third highest in the world.
The unemployment rate after the virus is estimated at 40% of the population. More than 50% of the Lebanese population are already living under the poverty line and, 3/4 are expected to live under food handouts by the end of 2020.
And as if not already conflicted enough by the bulk of people, hospitals are prompted to turn off their air conditioners and postpone surgeries due to the power cuts that last up to 22 hours per day.
Not to mention, the rising political tensions after Friday’s, July 3, verdict over the killing of former Sunni leader Rafik al-Hariri.
Yet again, 2020 poses opportunities for compassion and humanity. Nations all over the world are sympathizing with the tragic event that just occurred in Lebanon’s capital.
Today, Germany has dispatched dozens of search and rescue specialists to Lebanon. Australia pledged 1.4 million for Beirut’s relief effort. British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, promised a 5.6 million pounds for humanitarian support packages.
The Australian government pledges an initial 2 million Australian dollars ($1.4 million) to the relief effort in Lebanon. PM Scott Morrison says his country is considering another round of supporthttps://t.co/zWVlSFfiL7 #BeirutBlast
— Bloomberg Australia (@BloombergAU) August 6, 2020
The World Food Program is preparing to provide support for those who left homeless. The Tel Aviv Municipality has lit up its City Hall with the Lebanese Flag in stands of solidarity.
(President Donald Trump sparked controversy by claiming the explosion to be an attack… But we are not talking about that!)
Ironically the explosion comes 2 days before Hirsohima’s 75th anniversary. Both, as a reminder of how vulnerable life can be, and as a compilation; 75 years ago nations were bombing each other in war, now in the midst of a global economic crisis, they are able to come together in solidarity and empathy.
Sure, conflict, tension, and anxieties will always exist. But perhaps this is another prove that humanity can persist at the core of every nation.
Here is a link for your own act of humanity.