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Old     (onlyinboards)      Join Date: Oct 2014       08-04-2020, 8:20 AM Reply   
OMG this is insane. Early reports are 50 dead, that seems like a small amount. This is just awful.
Old     (denverd1)      Join Date: May 2004 Location: Tyler       08-04-2020, 11:17 AM Reply   
agreed. damage is crazy

now saying 78 dead, 4000 injured

Last edited by denverd1; 08-04-2020 at 11:20 AM.
Old     (fly135)      Join Date: Jun 2004       08-04-2020, 12:10 PM Reply   
Got a feeling that the death toll is going to go way up.
Old     (denverd1)      Join Date: May 2004 Location: Tyler       08-04-2020, 12:16 PM Reply   
2000 tons of chemicals
Old     (markj)      Join Date: Apr 2005       08-05-2020, 4:37 AM Reply   
Wow. That was some serious force.
Old     (pesos)      Join Date: Oct 2001 Location: Texas       08-05-2020, 5:16 AM Reply   
So terrible.

By all appearances the port disaster did not involve the usual suspects — Hezbollah, Israel, jihadist terrorism or the government of neighboring Syria. The truth seems to be both duller and more disturbing: Decades of rot at every level of Lebanon’s institutions destroyed Beirut’s port, much of the city, and far too many lives. It is precisely the banality behind the explosion that captures the particular punishment and humiliation heaped on Lebanon.

So far, Lebanese officials are in agreement about what happened, though it’s likely that more than one “official” account will emerge. After all, this is Lebanon, a country deeply divided by politics, religion and history. But here is what we know as of now, according to reporting by credible Lebanese media: Some 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate unloaded from a disabled vessel in 2014 had been stored in a port warehouse. Then yesterday, a welding accident ignited nearby fireworks — which caused the ammonium nitrate to explode.

Ports are prime real estate for political, criminal and militia factions. Multiple security agencies with different levels of competence (and different political allegiances) control various aspects of their operations. And recruitment in the civilian bureaucracy is dictated by political or sectarian quotas. There is a pervasive culture of negligence, petty corruption and blame-shifting endemic to the Lebanese bureaucracy, all overseen by a political class defined by its incompetence and contempt for the public good.

It’s unclear what combination of these elements let a bomb-in-waiting sit in a warehouse for almost six years, moved fireworks next to it and allowed irresponsible work practices to be carried out nearby. But the catastrophe, while exceptionally severe, is the result of business as usual in Lebanon. The country is familiar with explosions, and it is just as familiar with disasters caused by failures of public services: a garbage crisis that dates back to 2015, an environmental catastrophe in 2019 and power outages this year that last up to 20 hours a day.

The consequences of yesterday’s explosion will be even more serious than the immediate casualties and property damage. The main grain silo, which holds some 85 percent of the country’s cereals, was destroyed. Even more, the port will no longer be able to receive goods. Lebanon imports 80 percent of what it consumes, including 90 percent of its wheat, which is used to make the bread that is the staple of most people’s diets. About 60 percent of those imports come through the port of Beirut. Or, at least, they did.

The timing couldn’t be worse. An economic crisis has devastated Lebanon for several months. The country’s currency has collapsed, a problem that is itself a result of years of mismanagement and corruption. Hundreds of thousands of people can no longer buy fuel, food and medicine. As Lebanese have seen their savings wiped out and their purchasing power disappear, a new vocabulary appeared among even my optimistic Lebanese friends and family. To describe the country, they began using words like “doomed” and “hopeless.”


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