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Negligence or Sabotage?: The Face of a Disaster when Grief Turns to Anger in Lebanon


By: Elena Grace Flores

YouTube video by BBC

Beirut explosion: Angry residents rage at leaders after blast – BBC News

The Bomb Factor in the Explosion in Lebanon

The aftermath of the Beirut blast is more than just physical. An outpour of emotions and anger towards an alleged government’s negligence are in the open. Let’s revisit the figure analysis that can trigger the massive explosion in Lebanon with a yield of at least 200 tonnes. This is a conservative estimate since ANFO is only 0.74 equivalent to TNT. The ammonium nitrate also needs fuel to ignite. It’s unlikely also that 100 percent of all the materials were used. The larger range is from 2 to 3 kilotonnes maximum and around 200 tonnes minimum. For comparison, the Hiroshima atomic/nuclear bomb explosion was 12-kilotonnes. However, the fact that it needs fuel to explode, cannot yet rule out the sabotage scenario.

The Sabotage Scenario

The ammonium nitrate storage at the Beirut explosion site is just the oxidizer. Though the condition already deteriorates due to heat and other exposures. The unstable state plus the fuel from the aluminum foil of the firework embarkment nearby allows the disastrous incident to happen. The investigation must not stop there. People are asking for the culprits to be found. The port mismanagement is one thing but there is also a possibility that allows the union of both components. It could either be government sabotage or pure administration incompetence.

Grief Turns to Anger

Many have accused the authorities of corruption, neglect, and mismanagement. The blast killed at least 137 people and injured about 5,000 others, while dozens are still missing. People in Beirut have expressed anger at the government over what they say was negligence that led to the huge explosion. But could it be sabotage?

Fr. Jose Bosch Innovative Skills Training Advocacy Cooperative (ISTAC)

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