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Fire, explosion and detonation of ammonium nitrate in harbour of Beirut (Lebanon)
The detonation was preceded by a large fire at the Port of Beirut, on the city's northern Mediterranean coast. In videos posted on social media white smoke could be seen billowing from Warehouse 12, next to the port's huge grain silos. Shortly after 18:00 (15:00 GMT), the roof of the warehouse caught alight and there was a large initial explosion, followed by a series of smaller blasts that some witnesses said sounded like fireworks going off. About 30 seconds later, there was a colossal explosion that sent a mushroom cloud into the air and a supersonic blastwave radiating through the city. The blast wave levelled buildings near the port and caused extensive damage over much of the rest of the capital, which is home to two million people. Hospitals were quickly overwhelmed. "What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe," said the head of the Lebanese Red Cross, George Kettani. "There are victims and casualties everywhere." Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud said as many as 300000 people had been made temporarily homeless and that collective losses might reach $10-15bn (£8-11bn). The blast destroyed the immediate dockside area, creating a crater approximately 140 meter wide, which flooded with seawater. The warehouse where the initial fire and explosions were observed was obliterated and an adjacent grain silo was heavily damaged. Satellite images show complete devastation in the port area, with one ship apparently blown out of the water and onto the dockside.


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