Second-by-second forensic recreation of Beiruit explosion

Originally published at:


I watched every second. Horrific and mind blowing simultaneously.
One thing that crossed my mind, how the hell did they figure this stuff out prior to computer modeling?


The latest on the investigation into the causes of the explosion and who bears responsibility for it…

Unsurprisingly, the government has not made it public.


Took a lot more time and was a lot less precise.

That overlay of the Australian storage codes for distance from residential buildings and the NASA damage map…

The part that gets me, though, is the bits of video shoot by people who almost certainly died.


It reminds me of a crowdsourced version of the USCSB disaster reconstruction videos.


But think of all the money they saved!

Honestly, I can’t believe Rube Goldberg contraptions like that ever work.


And that wasn’t the first time Texas City got hit, though the 1947 disaster was, surprise surprise, ammonium nitrate.


Fascinating. I too am seriously impressed by this. I watched the whole thing. I hope that it is successfully used to prosecute the people who allowed it to happen.


Usually research like this has a hopeful feel: Learn more to prevent future tragedy. In this case though authorities already had enough info (giant rotting bags of explodey stuff is bad) but neglected to act


Ratel, that all crossed my mind, as well as the people who had to dig through the rubble to find these videos.
I figured it would be too weird to bring that here in an open post, but I am truly shocked, appalled, and in pain for the humanity lost, and the humanity forever scarred.
I appreciate your response.


Yeah, terribly grim. I can’t help but wonder just how they acquired the footage, though. It’s shocking that anything as close as those three videos (from the adjacent roof, the first responder footage and the one shot from dockside) would have even survived. From all of the footage I saw after the blast, it’s hard to imagine anything wasn’t just completely destroyed or subsequently buried as the sea rushed in to the crater.


It’s possible the people filming evacuated, or that the footage was being uploaded automatically.


“On the 15th anniversary of the incident, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board is announcing a forthcoming interactive training application based on one of the worst industrial disasters in recent U.S. history”

if the graphics are as good as in this animation, i want to see that app


They have one on Deepwater Horizon too. Instead of binge watching TV series I’ll be binge watching every USCSB animation.


This group is at my University. They are really excellent.


I dropped my cell phone, not realizing it, where it was run over for 12 hours by trucks coming and going from a local cement factory and other lighter industry. Underneath the finely crushed screen was a still-functioning unit which talked to the USB and let me download the photos.


They’re probably just fine, actually. Many of those pictures and videos were taken at different times or from far away. And as creepy as this sounds, fewer of the people near the blast died than I would have expected.

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I’ve recently gotten into watching the Air Disasters show, one episode per night. Fascinating stuff.

Before Covid, it wouldn’t have occurred to me that an accident investigation could retroactively imbue innocent death with some kind of meaning. But that requires authorities to effectively act on the best available information… which didn’t happen in Beruit, and is not happening in the US with covid.


They never explain how the set-up in the warehouse made it a perfect bomb and it is quite astonishing.

Tires burn hot and slow, the ideal fuse. The smoke helped with the flashover.
Fireworks when stacked initially go off individually but the stack will detonate eventually. (See: Enschede disaster)
That detonation set off the main explosive: ammonium nitrate.

So stored to an assload of explosives we find a fuse and a detonator.

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Contaminants can sensitize AN, so it’s possible that molten goo from the tire fire could have mixed in to make things even worse. Ammonium nitrate is also a bulk detonation hazard in a fire (the 1947 Texas City explosion was such a situation).

Criminal negligence all around.