Beirut Blast Was Among History’s Largest Accidental Explosions | Smart News

On August 4, about 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded in the port of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut. Now, new research gives a clearer picture of the size of the blast, George Dvorsky reports for Gizmodo.

The explosion’s force makes it the sixth-largest accidental, non-nuclear explosion in history, reports Gizmodo. The largest ever accidental explosion occurred in 1917, when two ships—one carrying TNT and other explosives—collided near Halifax, Nova Scotia. The blast killed about 1,800 people and shattered windows 50 miles away. The largest non-nuclear, human-caused intentional explosion was a mock-up test of future nuclear blasts. Dubbed “Minor Scale,” the test blast had the power of about 3,500 tons of TNT, per BBC News’ Jonathan Amos and Paul Rincon.

The blast shattered windows around the capital, destroyed three neighborhoods, killed about 200 people and injured thousands more. Engineering researchers at the University of Sheffield estimate that the explosion had

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Beirut Blast Ranks Among History’s Most Powerful Accidental Explosions

One of 16 videos of the Beirut blast used in the new study.
Gif: Borzou Daragahi/Twitter/Gizmodo

By analyzing videos uploaded to social media, scientists have calculated the strength of the blast that devastated the city of Beirut in August, finding it to be among the biggest non-nuclear explosions in human history.

When a warehouse at the Port of Beirut in Lebanon exploded this past summer, it released the equivalent of 500 tons of TNT and possibly as much as 1.12 kilotons of TNT, according to new research published in the scientific journal Shock Waves. That’s somewhere between 3% and 7% of the yield produced by the atomic bomb detonated at Hiroshima, which packed a blast yield equal to 15 kilotons of TNT. Accordingly, the explosion in Beirut now ranks among the 10 biggest accidental non-nuclear explosions of all time.

Around 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored at Beirut’s port

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Beirut blast was ‘historically’ powerful

Panorama showing damage to Beirut's port after explosion on 4 August 2020
Panorama showing damage to Beirut’s port after explosion on 4 August 2020

The blast that devastated large parts of Beirut in August was one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history, experts say.

The Sheffield University, UK, team says a best estimate for the yield is 500 tons of TNT equivalent, with a reasonable upper limit of 1.1 kilotons.

This puts it at around one-twentieth of the size of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.

The team mapped how the shockwave propagated through the city.

The group hopes its work can help emergency planners prepare for future disasters.

“When we know what the yield is from these sorts of events, we can then work out the loading that comes from that. And that tells us how to construct buildings that are more resilient,” said Dr Sam Rigby from Sheffield’s Blast and Impact Engineering Research Group.

“Even things

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