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Massive explosion rocks Beirut port (Updates)

Massive explosion rocks Beirut port (Updates)

Conflicting reports as to what exploded and how — Lebanese PM blames 2,700 Tons of Ammonium Nitrate stored at port.

https://twitter.com/borzou/status/1290675854767513600

A massive explosion, or series of explosions, has rocked the port of Beirut, causing widespread destruction and generating an enormous shock wave and dust cloud.

The cause of the explosion is unclear. Some accounts attribute it to an explosion at a fireworks factory, while others speculate it is a Hezbollah weapons depot. Israeli and Hezbollah sources, speaking to media, deny it was an Israeli attack.

The Jerusalem Post reports:

The source of the explosion was unclear. LBCI Lebanon News claimed that a fire had broken out at the port and then triggered an explosion of a nearby warehouse storing fireworks. According to the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen news, the explosion occurred in a warehouse storing benzine, a flammable chemical.

Sources from Hezbollah told OTV Lebanon that there was “no truth” to reports that the explosion was caused by an Israeli strike on Hezbollah weapons at the port. Israeli defense officials denied that Israel had any connection to the incident. Hezbollah operatives were seen at the port after the explosion, according to Al-Arabiya. Fighter jets were spotted over Tel Aviv after the explosion, according to Channel 12 news.

Lebanon’s General Security director told Al-Hadath that reports that the explosion was caused by fireworks were “ridiculous” and that the explosion involved high-quality explosives.

WE WILL CONTINUE TO UPDATE AS MORE BECOMES KNOWN

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Let’s see here:

1. Beirut Waterfront Controlled by Hezb’Allah, check
2. Hezb’Allah known for smuggling arms and ammunition into Lebanon to attack Eretz Yisrael, check
3. Low-paid dock workers unloading cargo, check
4. Someone made an ‘oopsie’, check

Then, again, Mossad may have known what was on the ship and decided to make it go away.

    Brian in reply to SeniorD. | August 4, 2020 at 6:22 pm

    I don’t think Mossad or Israel had anything to do with this. It is not in Israel’s interests to cause this kind of massive, indiscriminate explosion in a highly populated area.

    It would invite the condemnation of every other nation on earth.

    Israel doesn’t take the infliction of civilian casualties lightly.

      Tom Servo in reply to Brian. | August 4, 2020 at 7:49 pm

      I’ve looked through this frame by frame, it’s a fascinating event. First, there’s no sign of any missile or bomb coming in from outside. Of course we don’t know how the fire originally began, none of the video records start that early. They open with the column of smoke, and burning happening – and then there is an explosion, very red. Roughly a half second later comes the detonation, a second event triggered by the explosion, and this produces the impressive shock wave with its Wilson Cloud.

      This supports the idea that there was a large amount of Ammonium Nitrate or something very similar stored at the site.

        notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to Tom Servo. | August 5, 2020 at 1:45 am

        Would these be similar?

        Carlos Osweda
        @

        It was an arms depot.

        Missiles from Iran.

        First, the warheads were destroyed. Listen to them going off.

        Baruch Sandhaus
        @
        Note the second #Explosion at the end.

        https://mobile.twitter.com/COsweda/status/1290748019218853890

        MajorWood in reply to Tom Servo. | August 5, 2020 at 11:57 pm

        I was playing with frame by frame today and estimate the shock wave at about 6-8000 ft/sec. The large brown cloud is the dirt sent airborn by the blast. For reference, that is about 1/10 to 1/20th the speed that big meteorite will be clocking when it hits.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to SeniorD. | August 5, 2020 at 12:12 am

    Ammonium Nitrate does not explode without a fuel source. This sounds like more camel jockey incompetence.

      What does that mean? It seems to me that ammonium nitrate itself is a fuel source for an explosive reaction. I don’t make bombs, so I have no idea under what conditions ammonium nitrate becomes volatile. However a quick Wikipedia search indicates mixing fuel oil with it makes it an explosive. I would assume any port has vast quantities of fuel oil.

        JusticeDelivered in reply to NotCoach. | August 5, 2020 at 4:17 pm

        The difference between just fire and a big boom is how much oxidiser is available. Ammonium nitrate is an oxidiser. When I was a teen I used it with diesel, kerosene, gasoline, lighter fluid, etc, to blow stumps and also very large 3′ diameter ant hills. It was also good for making solid rocket fuel by mixing it with sulfur, sugar, flour, etc. And there are lots of other oxidisers.

        Dynamite sweats nitroglycerin when it gets old, and is very dangerous in that condition. So, it was better to make a substitute with fertilizer and fuel, both of which were on hand and cheap.

        Why mess around jumping through government hoops to get dynmite?

        McVeigh did not invent this.

I’ve heard of “making the earth move,” but…

Let’s see here:

1. Beirut Waterfront Controlled by Hezb’Allah, check
2. Hezb’Allah known for smuggling arms and ammunition into Lebanon to attack Eretz Yisrael, check
3. Low-paid dock workers unloading cargo, check
4. Someone made an ‘oopsie’, check

Then, again, Mossad may have known what was on the ship and decided to make it go away.

I’ll take Mossad for $1,000 Alex.

    Olinser in reply to SeniorD. | August 4, 2020 at 8:39 pm

    I’ve seen a lot of people posting this and it’s frankly pretty dumb.

    First, the Mossad in general are QUITE careful about killing real civilians (I say real rather than the actors/shields they set up in places). They aren’t going to set off a huge explosion and kill what will probably end up being thousands of civilians.

    Second, if you’re conducting a covert operation, you don’t start a huge fire and attract literally hundreds of people to film it on their phones before finally blowing it up.

      Arminius in reply to Olinser. | August 4, 2020 at 10:14 pm

      It’s rare that the Israelis would have done this in broad daylight, and they certainly wouldn’t have struck a busy port where the civilian casualty count would have been high; I believe 78 killed and thousands injured so far. Furthermore, an Israeli strike would have been a propaganda coup for Hezbollah.

      From what I’ve been able to gather the Lebanese PM is providing the best information.

      In 2013 the Moldavian flagged M/V Rhossus sailed from Batumi, Georgia carrying 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate in bulk bound for Beira, Mozambique. No doubt the intended use for the ammonium nitrate was for fertilizer. It’s one of the most common high nitrogen fertilizers and is used worldwide.

      The Rhossus developed mechanical difficulties and pulled into Beirut in September 2013. Port authorities inspected the ship and declared it unseaworthy and refused to allow it to leave. They let most of the crew return home but required the captain and four crewmen to remain to maintain the ship.

      Then it became a matter of money. The ship was rapidly running out of stores and fuel oil. The owners of the ship and owners of the cargo decided to cut their losses and walk away, leaving the five sailors to starve. They eventually were repatriated as well. The port authorities decided it was too dangerous to leave the cargo on the ship (in addition to fertilizer it can also be used to make a powerful explosive called ANFO or Ammonium Nitrate Fuel Oil which is what Timothy McVeigh used to bomb the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which is why it’s now tightly controlled in the U.S.) So they moved the cargo from the ship to a port warehouse.

      The one that blew up today.

      Creditors claimed the ship and the cargo but the former owners refused to pay. So the ammonium nitrate sat in that warehouse for seven years. When ammonium nitrate is fresh it’s stable but it degrades over time. While solid ammonium nitrate won’t combust, as it decomposes into two gases, nitrous oxide and water vapor, any ignition source will set it off.

      Apparently there was a fire at the port. Followed by an explosion 12 times larger than Oklahoma city.

        MajorWood in reply to Arminius. | August 4, 2020 at 11:45 pm

        No records of such a ship that I could locate.

        They need to bring Bahgdad Bob back to spin this one.

          Arminius in reply to MajorWood. | August 5, 2020 at 2:41 am

          Possibly because I misspelled the name slightly. It’s Rhosus, not Rhossus.

          Here she is:

          FleetMon-Tracking the Seven Seas.

          https://www.fleetmon.com/vessels/rhosus_8630344_46589/

          FleetMon was one of my primary sources. The hyperlink includes the complete IMO or seven digit International Maritime Organization unique reference number 8630344. These were introduced in the late 1980s for a variety of purposes such as, among other things, prevent maritime fraud. It is never reassigned to another ship so there’s no doubt this is the M/V Rhosus I was referring to. Typically the ship transported agricultural commodities which explains the ammonium nitrate.

          There are two articles (embedded links at the page) that verify what I wrote. In reverse order:

          “Crew kept hostages on a floating bomb – m/v Rhosus, Beirut

          Posted in Accidents by Mikhail Voytenko on Jul 23, 2014 at 08:27.

          General cargo vessel RHOSUS called Beirut, Lebanon, in October last year. Vessel loaded with ammonium nitrate was destined for another country, the reason she called Beirut is unclear, maybe for supplies or due to some mechanical trouble. RHOSUS was detained after PSC inspection, which found a number of deficiencies. Since then vessel is stranded in Beirut. By now only four crew stay on board – Master (Russian nationality), Chief and Third Engineers and Bosun, all of them Ukrainians. Vessel was owned and operated by Mr. Grechushkin Igor, Russian citizen now Cyprus resident (last known manager Teto Shipping, Cyprus). RHOSUS actually, is abandoned – owner doesn’t communicate, doesn’t pay salaries, doesn’t provide supplies. Owner of the cargo declared abandonment, too. Beirut authorities don’t permit the remaining crew to leave the vessel and fly to home. The reason is obvious, port authorities don’t want to be left with abandoned vessel on their hands, loaded with dangerous cargo, explosives, in fact. Why don’t they want to arrest vessel with cargo, to release the crew and replace it with temporary local crew, is unclear. Russian and Ukrainian authorities do nothing, while as it seems, their involvement is a must, in order to achieve some kind of agreement with Beirut authorities, and work out a joint plan either to replace the crew with locals unconditionally, or finance the crew and vessel until she’s auctioned.”

          And:

          “Beirut port explosion mystery solved? VIDEO

          Posted in Accidents by Mikhail Voytenko on Aug 04, 2020 at 18:40.

          Aug 5 UPDATE:

          In Jul 2014, I’ve been asked by one of Russian national newspapers to investigate the story of general cargo ship RHOSUS, stranded in Beirut with cargo of ammonium nitrate, following the letter they received from the Captain of the ship. That’s what I found out:
          General cargo vessel RHOSUS called Beirut, Lebanon, in October last year. Vessel loaded with ammonium nitrate was destined for another country, the reason she called Beirut is unclear, maybe for supplies or due to some mechanical trouble. RHOSUS was detained after PSC inspection, which found a number of deficiencies. Since then vessel is stranded in Beirut. By now only four crew stay on board – Master (Russian nationality), Chief and Third Engineers and Bosun, all of them Ukrainians. Vessel was owned and operated by Mr. Grechushkin Igor, Russian citizen now Cyprus resident (last known manager Teto Shipping, Cyprus). RHOSUS actually, is abandoned – owner doesn’t communicate, doesn’t pay salaries, doesn’t provide supplies. Owner of the cargo declared abandonment, too. Beirut authorities don’t permit the remaining crew to leave the vessel and fly to home. The reason is obvious, port authorities don’t want to be left with abandoned vessel on their hands, loaded with dangerous cargo, explosives, in fact. Why don’t they want to arrest vessel with cargo, to release the crew and replace it with temporary local crew, is unclear.
          https://www.fleetmon.com/maritime-news/2014/4194/crew-kept-hostages-floating-bomb-mv-rhosus-beirut/
          Many believe that yesterday’s explosion in Beirut was caused by that ammonium nitrate cargo on board of RHOSUS. Probably.

          A powerful explosion occurred in Beirut port area on Aug 4, killing and injuring dozens of people, and causing widespread damage. As of evening Aug 4, there’s no clarity with regards to the cause of explosion/explosions, and what triggered it. Russian witness insists he saw the ship on fire prior to blast, he managed to record fire and explosions on his mobile phone.”

          Based on the evidence I’ve been able to uncover I’m convinced the Lebanese PM is correct about the cause of the explosion. I never believed the fireworks story. This blast was far too powerful for that.

        JusticeDelivered in reply to Arminius. | August 5, 2020 at 4:23 pm

        Interesting on ammonium nitrate degrading. I did not know that and I have never seen any degrade.

HOLLY SCHIFFT!!!
That is insane. No way that was a fireworks factory. And who puts a fireworks factory in a busy international port?

Early evidence suggests this was a nitrate explosion from an impounded cargo. The red post—explosion cloud is probably nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Lest one forget, ammonium nitrate is fertilizer — and explosive if detonated…

    MattMusson in reply to Zhinlo. | August 4, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    In 1947, a freighter carrying 2200 tons of ammonium nitrate caught fire in the harbor of Texas City, Texas. For hours the cargo smoldered but eventually it exploded. It is believed to be on of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever created by man.

    Downtown Texas City was leveled. Over 500 were killed. 4,000 plus were injured. Every single member of the Texas City Fire Dept was killed in the blast except one.

    OldProf2 in reply to Zhinlo. | August 4, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    I believe you are correct. Ammonium nitrate is fairly safe when it is crystalline or prilled, because shock waves don’t propagate. That’s why fuel oil or diesel fuel is generally added when it is used as an explosive. If it gets hot in a fire, however, it melts and becomes a high explosive.

    The explosion shown in the videos starts as a fire, possibly with some small explosives or fireworks going off. If there is a ship or a bin with ammonium nitrate, it would be heating up and melting. The final blast is obviously (from the shock wave) a high explosive. The huge brown cloud is dinitrogen tetroxide, the product of ammonium nitrate detonation.

    MattMusson nailed it. This explosion resembles the 1947 Texas City explosion and the 2013 West Fertilizer explosion.

    alaskabob in reply to Zhinlo. | August 4, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    Requires a mix with something petrochemical. The Galveston blast was a freighter loaded ammonium nitrate “waterproofed” in paraffin. The build up of intensity of the explosion today brought temp up to finally cook off the main storage. The “firecrackers” could be ammunition cooking off. Should be plenty of fragments around if munitions.

      Arminius in reply to alaskabob. | August 4, 2020 at 10:38 pm

      Ammonium nitrate only requires fuel oil while in the solid state to become explosive. As it degrades it becomes unstable. In my previous comment I shouldn’t have said it decomposes into a gaseous state. It’s more accurate to say that as ammonium nitrate decomposes it emits gases. Then all it requires is an ignition source.

      And this stuff had been sitting in that warehouse for seven years. Unbelievable. Why, once it became obvious that it had been abandoned by its owners and the creditors weren’t going to take it off their hands, they Lebanese authorities didn’t dispose of it. Because by leaving it to rot in a warehouse for the better part of a decade this explosion became inevitable.

        alaskabob in reply to Arminius. | August 5, 2020 at 12:37 pm

        From what I read, decomposition at normal temps does not lead to instability. A catalyst is needed. That sasid, this explosion was far greater than Texas City blast.

          Arminius in reply to alaskabob. | August 5, 2020 at 4:54 pm

          I don’t know what constitutes normal temperatures. I’m sure warehouses in the M.E. get pretty damned hot. Apparently port authorities in Beirut were extremely worried about having 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in bulk in one of their warehouses under what they considered very poor conditions especially in a maritime environment. The bottom line is they knew it was an extremely dangerous situation and they wanted to get rid of it. They asked the Lebanese army if they wanted it, but the army said they had no use for it. They wanted to sell it to a Lebanese company (Lebanese farmers need fertilizer just as much as farmers in Mozambique) but no joy. Since it was stored in that warehouse under a court order, over the years they practically begged the court for permission to re-export the ammonium nitrate to no avail. It turns out some very powerful people in Lebanon wanted to keep it there while they were also stockpiling ammonium nitrate elsewhere. Guess who? Here’s what the Jerusalem Post is reporting:

          https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/nasrallah-threatened-to-blow-up-israel-with-same-chemicals-as-beirut-blast-637582

          “Nasrallah threatened to blow up Israel with same chemicals as Beirut blast

          Hezbollah also sought to import ammonium nitrate via Syria through influence in Lebanon’s agriculture ministry.”

          Based upon leaked diplomatic cables and archival footage as evidence, Nasrallah wanted to send a ship packed with ammonium nitrate into the port of Haifa. There’s a large of ammonium nitrate stored there as well as 15,000 tons of gas. He bragged it would have the effect of a “nuclear explosion. He could kill tens of thousands of people and affect up to 800,000.

          https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/hezbollah-stockpiled-chemical-behind-beirut-blast-in-london-637578

          “Hezbollah kept three metric tons of ammonium nitrate, the explosive thought to be behind the mega blast in Beirut this week, in a storehouse in London, until MI5 and the London Metropolitan Police found it in 2015.

          The Lebanese terrorist group also stored hundreds of kilograms of ammonium nitrate in southern Germany, which were uncovered earlier this year.

          The Beirut explosion took place at a warehouse that held 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been confiscated from a ship.

          The Iran-backed terrorists kept the explosive in thousands of ice packs in four properties in northwest London, according to a report in The Telegraph last year. The ice pack deception tactic was used in Germany, as well…”

          Home-made rocket hobbyists sometimes make ammonium nitrate-based fuel. Ammonium nitrate is used in instant cold packs; hydrating the salt is an endothermic process. Since ammonium nitrate fertilizer is difficult to get buying these cold packs are the easiest source (if it’s legal where you live) since you have to go through a process to produce ammonium nitrate. Apparently if you know what you’re doing it’s safe. You buy the cold packs and remove the water, leaving only the ammonium nitrate.

          Right now there’s a lot of finger pointing going on in Lebanon. Apparently the port authorities are under house arrest. But the Lebanese people are already blaming Hezbollah. It isn’t as if Nasrallah’s intentions for the ammonium nitrate was any great secret.

          The Lebanese people are already getting angry at Hezbollah. How much affect their anger will have remains to be seen considering Hezbollah’s tentacles reach into all levels of the Lebanese government. But the fact that the Lebanese people will blame Hezbollah for this catastrophe will cause them some problems.

        JusticeDelivered in reply to Arminius. | August 5, 2020 at 4:44 pm

        Is ammonium nitrate degrading driven by heat and or low humidity?I have had moderate amounts of fertilizer sit for many years before use.

Can’t resist.

“And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, ‘O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.’ And the Lord did grin. And the people did feast upon the lambs, and sloths, and carp, and anchovies, and orangutans, and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats, and large chulapas. And the Lord spake, saying, ‘First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.’

buckeyeminuteman | August 4, 2020 at 2:57 pm

This is what happens when you let terrorists take over your government and they spend all your money buying up weapons and threatening your southerly neighbors. Whether it was an accident or the Mossad, it’s Hezbollah’s fault.

    MajorWood in reply to buckeyeminuteman. | August 4, 2020 at 11:32 pm

    Anyone remember all the ammonium perchlorate rocket motors that didn’t even make it out of China.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=993wlZ6XFSs

    >> Assigning responsibility far and wide, investigators blamed the disaster on the negligence or corruption of 123 people in addition to the 49 previously arrested.

    The immediate cause of the accident was the spontaneous ignition of overly dry nitrocellulose stored in a container that overheated, according to the report, issued on Feb. 5. Wetting agents inside the container had evaporated in the summer heat, investigators found. Flames from that initial fire reached nearby ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which exploded. <<

    When in doubt (or when you want to distract and mislead, call in your old friend Ammonium Nitrate whose explosions often don't look like it at all.

    And while we are here, Pepcon always deserves a revisit. 😉

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPVpzjxRjPk

    The best type of special ops missions is one where you can't be accused of something because it makes the "target" look even worse in the public's eye.

      MajorWood in reply to MajorWood. | August 4, 2020 at 11:36 pm

      Oh, and the first video is how God punishes you for not shooting it horizontally. Only those shooting vertically get knocked off their feet.

Watching the first video, fireworks can be seen going off. Those are not destructive devices, those are definitely fireworks. They’re even launching off the ground and bursting as they are supposed to do. There appears to have been a fire that ignited the fireworks, and it subsequently set off a huge explosion of something NOT fireworks. “Zhinlo,” in a comment above, may be correct.

    rabid wombat in reply to DaveGinOly. | August 4, 2020 at 4:03 pm

    A lot other than fireworks can provide a spectacular pyrotechnic show

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzL2QW5pfLc

    I’ll second that opinion. Benzine or other gas/liquid hydrocarbons can make one heck of a sharp, singular explosion, and the exploding fireworks (which are obvious on the video) are just the right thing for somebody to think “Oh, we have a large enough empty area around this pressurized tank that we don’t have to worry about ignition sources…”

    Plus, if it were actual munitions, there would be a practical *rain* of weapon parts, live grenades, shells, ammunition, and other things that don’t go boom at the same time as all their boxmates.

    Hieronymous Machine in reply to DaveGinOly. | August 5, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    “Definitely” fireworks? I’ve seen fireworks “mishaps”: They usually include something other than successive white flashes; things like, Roman candles, whistlers, greens and reds, sparkles and sparklers….

    Not saying that this *wasn’t* due to gross incompetency, but I look with suspicion on the idea that this was a “fireworks” factory (unless “munitions” can be translated from the Arabic as “fireworks”).

Sure as hell wasn’t a nuclear explosion, like some sports writer moron on Twitter was claiming.

    Arminius in reply to UJ. | August 4, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    When I need solid, reliable weapons expertise, I always turn to ESPN.

      MajorWood in reply to Arminius. | August 5, 2020 at 12:49 pm

      I am sure it was on ESPN — illegal (best with Spanish accent). South Park fans will remember that one, which feature dog and cock fighting.

That is terrifying. It seems outrageous/criminal/begligent that anything so explosive would be stored at the port.

I’ve seen several rockets blow up at Kennedy Space Center and Vandenberg AFB and they always leave a big orange cloud from the Nitrogen Tetroxide thruster fuel. This one sure looks similar. Were they fueling rockets in that building?

friggin chinese fireworks…….
wuhanBOOOOMMvirus

blacksburger | August 4, 2020 at 5:45 pm

There was a spectacular explosion in 1917 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It killed more than 1900 people, injured 9000 and levelled a large part of the city. Here is a website that describes it. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-halifax-explosion-in-1917-508089

smalltownoklahoman | August 4, 2020 at 5:58 pm

Video analysis of the Beirut explosion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQURWC6xw0U

Apparently it’s confirmed to be ammonium nitrate. From a derelict ship.

What ever it was it was already on the ground … I’ve heard drones a air strike etc … Nope we don’t have anything non nuclear that could be carried that would do that… So it had to have already been there could a car bomb have been the first explosion and meant to trigger the second … Maybe but it’s all guessing at this point

the video from the harbor perspective(seems to have been shot by a boater)appears a completely different type of event–the smaller initial fire/explosions could easily be small arms/munitions going up–the second blast is tremendous, more reminiscent of a rather large weapon detonation–no signature doubleflash so not a nuke–but could have been a big conventional weapon

    MajorWood in reply to texansamurai. | August 4, 2020 at 11:52 pm

    Don’t ban me for mentioning this, ;-), but there is a good 1m29s compilation video on the NY Slimes site. Also has a pic of ground zero, or should I say, ground -1.

    I don’t think “big weapon” would do it. Not unless we’re talking a FAM – but that would have to be dropped.

    Though, when it comes down to it, a grain elevator explosion IS basically a FAM. (Which is what the final explosion is, I think.)

What you have here is a two or three stage event.

First, you have a large fire, exact cause unknown.
Second, this fire causes secondary explosions, again of unknown origin.
Finally, the fire and secondary explosions trigger a cataclysmic explosion, of unknown origin.

The only thing that can be said, with any certainty at this point, is that the final cataclysmic detonation was most likely not the result of the detonation of explosive munitions of fireworks.

However, that still does not explain what caused the initial fire and secondary explosions. It could have been a pure accident, an industrial accident, arson, or some form of attack. That is still very much in debate. And, we may never have those answers.

I guess Lebanese schools don’t teach the old adage “if you can see the explosives, the explosives can see you.” As in many things, distance is your friend.

A huge warehouse full of ammonium nitrate, and grain elevator nearby. So, the initial explosion fire is something small by comparison, maybe it’s fireworks (the sparkles I’ve seen indicate ammo or fireworks). It gets hot enough (along with whatever else is required) and the AN goes off (leading to the huge dark red cloud) and this sets off the grain elevators (which is the explosion that levels things).

Whether there’s any nefarious bits to this, I don’t know. But I think the sequence is pretty solid. It certainly sounds like a bit of incompetence over malice.

The grain elevator walls collapsed. It was not a part of the explosion. The symmetrical white cloud that rapidly expanded was water vapor temporarily compressed to droplet form by the massive over pressure, similar say, to how a lenticular cloud forms when high winds hit the side of a mountain.

I wonder how long these events were going on before it went high-order. The area is still accessible by satellite Googlemaps. It will be interesting to see if any of the countries that have been using Lebanon as a playground will step up to fix it.

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