Second-by-second forensic recreation of Beiruit explosion

We need rename the Ammonium Nitrate, the name is too innocuous. If I pulled up a ship and said “hey I need to store 40 tons of dynamite for a few years,” you would think that some care would be taken with where and how it is stored, ie not next to fire works or in the middle of a very busy commercial port. Any idiot would get that. But when you say its a chemical used as fertilizer, well, gosh, its just fertilizer, amirite?

I used to work as a blaster back in the day, and AN forms the basis for an awful lot of VERY powerful explosives. As explosives go its relatively hard to set off, but man it packs a LOT of energy. And blasting training 101: it doesn’t age or store particularly well. It tends to get a lot easier to set off…

It should be renamed “megaboom” or something, to make it clear to non-technical folk that it should be handled with some care & attention. Its not like Beirut was the first time it caused a catastrophe (or the 10th, for that matter).


That was neat and terrifying.


Yeah they do. At around 4:55 they talk about “the temperature rising rapidly”. Then again at 5:35 “the video shows many doors and windows are closed. According to experts, ‘confinement creates hotspots.’ Areas of high temperature, at which AN can get close to its combustion point.” The rest of the video from that point talks about the poor storage conditions which led to the explosion - ripped and torn bags, leaking, contamination, lack of spacing between piles, proximity to ignition sources, etc.

Basically, the whole video is an explainer about how “the set-up in the warehouse made it a perfect bomb.” It’s kind of weird that you somehow missed all that?

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Yeah, all those close up videos of the burning warehouse were hard to watch. I kept thinking all these people are going to die in a few minutes.


If more doors and windows had been open, I wonder what difference the extra oxygen supply would have made versus any temperature-lowering effect it may have had.

Gunpowder in a pile with plenty of oxygen supply burns hot and fast, and can therefore cause a lot of localised damage. Gunpowder in a container - with no air supply - detonates. I suspect AN is somewhat similar.

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