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An Anatomy of the Beirut Port Blast

At around 18:08 on 4 August 2020, an enormous explosion occurred at the Port of Beirut in Lebanon. The blast, among the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, tore through the densely populated city which is home to approximately half of Lebanon’s population. More than 200 people were killed and over 6,000 were injured as the blast destroyed residential areas, hospitals and schools – irreparably damaging the fabric of the city and changing the lives of its citizens.

The exact causes of the explosion remain unclear. Attempts to comprehensively investigate the blast have been consistently mired by a Lebanese political and judicial class highly resistant to the establishment of truth, accountability and retribution. What is clear, however, is that a significant number of key ministries and individuals within the Lebanese state were aware of the large ammonium nitrate store at the now-devastated port, and the dangers that store posed to human life.

Whilst supporting and advocating for greater research into accountability and legal redress surrounding the explosion, these factors are beyond the scope of this report and are better left to the organisations already carrying out excellent work in this field. 

Instead, Action on Armed Violence’s (AOAV) ‘An Anatomy of the Beirut Port Blast’ sets out to highlight the varied immediate and longer-term impacts brought about by the blast. This, in turn, will help to support greater understanding of the wide-ranging and interconnected civilian and humanitarian consequences that arise from an explosion of this magnitude in populated areas.