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.
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.”
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
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.
1/x This morning I woke up to see viral maps incorrectly comparing the damage area of the Beirut explosion to London and New York. I have corrected the maps with a little thread to explain my corrections. img 1. tweet with my notes. img 2-4. my new maps. pic.twitter.com/nz9Q1X0wLt— Joanna Merson (@JoannaMerson) August 5, 2020
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: