The deadly explosion at the Port of Beirut had approximately 10 percent of the explosive power of the atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II, UK specialists estimate.
Tuesday’s explosion in Lebanon which has killed at least 137 people and injured more than 5,000 was "unquestionably one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history,” specialists at UK’s University of Sheffield Blast and Impact Engineering Research Group said, according to the BBC.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said the explosion was due to a stockpile of 2,750 tons of the industrial chemical ammonium nitrate, used in fertilizers and explosives, catching fire after having been stored for six years at the port without safety measures.
“This is unquestionably one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, far bigger than any conventional weapon,” Sheffield’s professor Andrew Tyas, an expert on blast protection engineering, told the Evening Standard.
Watch: The closest footage of the devastating blasts that rocked #Beirut a day earlier has emerged, according to live video shot by two Lebanese citizens living in an apartment opposite the port where the explosions erupted.#Lebanonhttps://t.co/9zqOn4zRCR pic.twitter.com/bzMv3Z9XzR— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) August 5, 2020
The Beirut blast’s shockwaves smashed masonry, shattered windows, sucked furniture out of apartments onto the streets and left up to a quarter of a million people without homes fit to live in, Lebanese officials said.
“The intensity of the shockwave is equivalent to 20 to 30 percent of the shockwave caused by Hiroshima. It’s astonishing,” Tyas told Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star.
The Beirut blast was felt in Cyprus, a Mediterranean island more than 160 kilometers across the sea from the Lebanese capital.
The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1964 was a 4,536-kilogram uranium 235 bomb. It exploded approximately 600 meters above the center of the city and instantly killed 78,000 people.