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

A combination of pictures of footage filmed at the moment a massive explosion rocked Beirut at the port of the Lebanese capital on August 4, 2020. (AFP)

The world rallied around Lebanon after the deadly explosion that shook its capital Beirut earlier this week, and the tragic disaster dominated headlines for days and is expected to remain in the international spotlight for the foreseeable future.

However, while the Beirut blast was the most tragic, the world witnessed five other explosions and fires within the span of 72 hours this week.

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Here is a look at the six incidents in chronological order:

North Korea

A video obtained by the Associated Press showed plumes of black smoke rising from the North Korean city Hyesan near the border with China amid reports that a deadly explosion occurred there on Monday.

There has been no official statement from North Korea or China about what happened in Hyesan, but South Korean Daily NK, which monitors North Korea and other monitoring groups reported that gas explosions in a residential area left dozens of people dead or injured. The AP couldn't independently confirm the reports.

The video acquired by AP shows orange flames and black smoke shooting into the sky from Hyesan as loud explosion-like sounds are heard. A few people can be seen watching the scene from the Chinese side of the border.

The video was provided by Wang Bo, a travel agent who said he shot it from a park in the Chinese border town of Changbai.

“I just saw explosions and there were a lot of onlookers who were looking in that direction. We don’t know the reason why there were explosions,” Wang said.

The Daily NK cited on Wednesday unidentified sources in North Korea as saying that the explosions left 15 people dead and the death toll could rise. It earlier reported gasoline stored at a house in Hyesan ignited and led to the explosion of a nearby liquid petroleum gas cylinder, and this caused chain explosions of gas cylinders attached to other houses.

China

A flash explosion at a chemical plant in China’s Hubei Province on Monday killed six people and injured four others, China's state news agency Xinhua reported.

Aerial photo taken on Aug. 3, 2020 shows firefighters putting out a fire at the explosion site of an organic silicon company in Xiantao City, central China's Hubei Province. (Xinhuanet.com)

Aerial photo taken on Aug. 3, 2020 shows firefighters putting out a fire at the explosion site of an organic silicon company in Xiantao City, central China's Hubei Province. (Xinhuanet.com)

The explosion was due to improper cleaning procedures in the facility, China Daily reported citing a circular from the Hubei provincial department of emergency management.

“According to the investigation, the direct cause of the accident was that the operator didn't comprehensively recognize the safety risks or strictly obey the parking safety measures while cleaning a layered tower at the chemical plant,” China Daily added.

Lebanon

Lebanon, a country already reeling from an unprecedented economic crisis, and a surge in coronavirus infections, was struck by the massive explosion at the Port of Beirut on Tuesday which killed at least 154 people and injured more than 5,000.

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.”

US

An under-construction $69 million luxury apartment/hotel building went up in flames on Tuesday in the heart of the Minnesota’s capital, Saint Paul, in the United States.

“15 Fire apparatus, 4 Ambulances and 86 Firefighters and Chief Officers responded to control Tuesday morning’s fire in downtown Saint Paul. Crews were on scene for over 13 hours. The fire remains under investigation,” the city’s fire department said.

There were no casualties.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) said that its National Response Team arrived in the city to investigate the fire, and an ATF spokeswoman said that arson was one of the possibilities being investigated, according to broadcaster CBS News.

UAE

A massive fire broke out at a market in the UAE’s emirate of Ajman on Wednesday, according to the country’s civil defense.


The authorities evacuated the nearby buildings and explained that the size of the fire and the thickness of the plumes of smoke was due to the highly combustible nature of the products in the market.

The civil defense successfully brought the fire under control with no injuries or causalities.

Iraq

A fire broke out in a storage facility for foodstuff and electrical products in Najaf on Wednesday, the Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported.

The storage facility the base of operations for selling wholesale products in the Iraqi governorate. The agency did not report any casualties.

Read more:

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

Beirut explosion: Hezbollah ‘categorically denies’ storing arms at blast site

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

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Last Update: Sunday, 09 August 2020 KSA 07:13 - GMT 04:13
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