Beirut is the capital of Lebanon, and has a vibrant population of 2 million people. It has recently been in the news because of an explosion in a warehouse at the main port. This warehouse was storing an estimated 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate.
What is ammonium nitrate? It is a chemical that is used as a fertilizer and is used along with oil as an explosive in areas where mining takes place.
What happened? A warehouse in the main port in Beirut was storing 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate. It is a bit of a mystery what exactly happened, but there was a fire near the warehouse where the ammonium nitrate was kept, and somehow, the chemical exploded, killing more than 135 people and injuring a few thousand. These were people who lived and worked near the vibrant waterfront.
The Lebanese are furious with the officials in the government for allowing an accident like this to happen. The ammonium nitrate has been stored there since 2013, and apparently many officials at the port have warned the government about this over the past 6 years. Nothing was done.
The Lebanese have taken to the streets and are protesting against corruption in the government and demanding change. On Monday, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet resigned from their positions in the government, The protests continue as the people want real change. The country has been suffering from a crippling economic crisis, and this explosion on top of that has triggered the demand that even the President and Speaker of the Parliament should resign in order to effect real change.
Written by: Sunaina Murthy