Cartographer shows scale of Beirut explosion if it happened in London or New York

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The massive blast that shook Beirut on Tuesday, claiming the lives of at least 154 people and injuring more than 5,000, is considered the deadliest peace-time explosion in Lebanon’s history.

The blast was so intense it smashed masonry, shattered windows, sucked furniture out of apartments onto the streets and left almost 300,000 people in disaster-stricken Beirut without homes fit to live in, according to Lebanese officials.

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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 at the port since 2013 without safety measures.

UK specialists estimated that the Beirut blast had 10 percent of the explosive power of the atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II and said it was “unquestionably one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history.”

Joanna Merson, a cartographic developer at the University of Oregon in the US created maps to show the scale of the Beirut explosion as if it had happened in London or New York and shared them on Twitter.

Cartography is the study and practice of making maps.

Each of the maps Merson shared contains three red concentric circles around the center point of where the explosion occurred, their radiuses are 1 kilometer, 5 kilometer and 10 kilometers respectively.

Replying to a question about what the levels of red represent, she said that they represent the “distances of damage initially reported after the blast,” adding: “They are meant to simply convey the distances so that readers have a reference of what those distances look like in other cities. This can be used when reading other reports as the information comes in.”

Here are Merson’s maps:



New York

Read more:

Beirut blast is the most tragic: 6 explosions, fires around the world within 72 hours

Fire, blast, mushroom smoke cloud, wreckage: Timeline of Beirut explosion footage

Beirut explosion had 10 pct of Hiroshima atomic bomb’s explosive power: UK experts

Colonel who died suspiciously had asked for removing ammonium nitrate: Lebanese media