Wojtylak is not directly involved in the Beirut investigation but has 16 years of experience investigating blast accidents. All rights reserved. Lebanese rescue workers searched for survivors in the mangled wreckage of buildings and investigators blamed negligence for a massive warehouse explosion that sent a devastating blast wave across Beirut, killing at least 113 people. No, itâs not a shock wave. Dozens are still missing, feared dead. But in the meantime, between those who filmed the blast and the application of physics, we can prevent any escalation of conspiracy theories or misunderstandings. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of CondÃ© Nast. He would “reveal facts” about the warehouse soon, he said, but did not want to pre-empt an investigation. Nitropril is designed for use in coal mines, so this particular breed of ammonium nitrate would not have been mixed with quieting chemicals like a fertilizer would be; rather, it would have been mixed to blow. The first wave of patients are those who were physically near emergency services, he says, those unlucky enough to get hurt but lucky enough to do it in close proximity to an ambulance. ð» Upgrade your work game with our Gear teamâs. Analysis of the aerial photographs of the pier shows a crater in the range of 120 to 140 meters in diameter; blast physics mixed with history tell us that to carve a chunk that size from the side of the planet requires a charge equivalent to 1.7 to 5.4 million kilograms of TNT (thatâs 3.8 to 11.8 million pounds for any Americans dragging their feet on converting to metric). As an aside, nuclear weaponry is set to detonate several hundred feet above ground level, and therefore doesnât exert enough force directly on the soil to create a crater. The videos also show an unnervingly uniform hemisphere of white propagating outward from the blast site, a dome of vicious vapor that eventually hurtles toward every person filming and announces its arrival in the audio with a crash. A study finds sex differences in the brain. But as the other dispatchers ran for their lives, Coleman realized the number of train passengers set to arrive at Halifax any moment, and so he stayed long enough to send one final telegram: âHold up the train. It … The chemical rearrangement of ammonium nitrate answers a lot of the public questions about the videos, including the source of the startling red color of the plume. The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, offered the UK’s support and said British nationals had been affected by the incident. Governments worldwide have offered support, including the UK, France, Australia, the US, Canada and Israel. On Wednesday Donald Trump continued to suggest that the explosion might have been a deliberate attack, even as officials in Lebanon and his own defence secretary, Mark Esper, said most believed it was an accident. The increased pressure and flow resulting from the deposition of a large amount of energy in a small, very localised volume. Massive blast in Beirut sends shockwaves across city A general view shows the damage at the site of Tuesday's blast in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 5, … Flat, delicate, frangible, and installed in large sheets, glass is the perfect target for a blast wave of even minuscule magnitude; it shatters and flies easier than any other substance. In the 6 million-pound Halifax explosion of 1917, the propagation of the shock wave through downtown left a swath of fatalities reaching 1.5 miles from the center of the blast, killing an estimated 1,950 and leaving another 8,000 with devastating injuries. Lebanon's caretaker PM and ex-ministers charged over Beirut blast, A city in need of miracles: few glimmers of hope in Beirut's reconstruction effort, Beirut's destroyed clubbing district: 'I don't know how we will recover', Beirut rescuers give up after sensors gave false hopes of more survivors, Possible sign of life detected under Beirut rubble weeks after blast, Beirut explosion devastates Sursock Palace and Museum – in pictures, Beirut explosion: FBI to take part in Lebanon investigation, If ever there was a moment for change in Lebanon, this must surely be it, Latest story: death toll rises to 137 as army takes control of site, Ground zero: a rip through the heart of an already dying city. An explosion in the port of Lebanon’s capital on Tuesday devastated the city, Thu 6 Aug 2020 11.35 BST By the evening of 5 August, the death toll had reached 135, with nearly 5,000 wounded. Munitions ship on fire and making for Pier 6 ... Goodbye boys.â Coleman died in the blast at 9:05, but his final message saved thousands, not just the passengers on the trains that were able to stop before entering the zone of destruction, but also the citizens already in Halifax: The telegram signal reached every operator in the surrounding region, and because of Colemanâs quick thinking, every doctor who felt the earth rumble, up to 160 km away, had almost immediate access to news about what had happened. Science, along with a few case studies from history, let me do some preliminary calculations to puzzle out this explosion, too. In a campfire, where the chemical reactions are facilitated in a leisurely way by the oxygen in the air alone, energy is released slowly as enjoyable levels of heat and light. On Thursday the French president, Emmanuel Macron, visited the city. The explosion did trigger a powerful blast wave that apparently shattered windows across Beirut, and it was briefly visible as an expanding, shell-like cloud – something often … After a two-month stay on the International Space Station, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley safely splash down in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule off the Florida coast. It is the essential source of information and ideas that make sense of a world in constant transformation. At 6:08 PM, on Tuesday 4 August 2020, a catastrophic explosion took place at the Port of Beirut caused by the detonation of about 2,750 metric tons (3031 US short tons) of ammonium nitrate (equivalent to around 1.1 kilotons of TNT) that had been stored … On August 4, 2020, a massive explosion blasted deadly waves through downtown Beirut. George, a boy that was born as the blast wave hit the hospital, is seen after birth in Beirut, Lebanon, on August 4, 2020, in this picture obtained from social media. Thanks to modern technology that charge size can be calculated scientifically too, even while waiting for more complete information to trickle out, using the size of the telltale crater. An explosive with a pure burn, like any explosive used in military-grade weaponry, will produce smoke that looks equally pure: snowy, billowy white, or sometimes a pale grey. Reports indicate that the blast killed at least 30 people and injured 2,500 others. However even using only those 2,750 metric tons, Special Agent Wojtylak says his preliminary calculations indicate that those safe from all risk of carnage would have needed to be at least 15 kilometers from the Beirut pier. Then, video of the fireball rippled around the world almost as quickly. As a biomedical engineer with a doctorate in the patterns of injury and trauma that follow an explosion, scraping together information from accidental blasts is part of my daily work. A MASSIVE explosion rocked Beirut, Lebanon on Tuesday. When Tuesday, November 17, 2020 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM EST Add to Calendar. Wired may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. On Aug. 4, a series of massive explosions rocked the port of Beirut in Lebanon, and the biggest was one of the most powerful blasts in history that was not produced by … Watch SpaceX's Crew Dragon Capsule Splash Down in Gulf of Mexico. Then, video of the fireball rippled around the world almost as quickly. Lebanon’s prime minister, Hassan Diab, said the cause of the explosion was 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate. I traced one of the Beirut videos posted by, 6 million-pound Halifax explosion of 1917. Beirut’s governor, Marwan Abboud, said damage from the blast extended over half of Beirut, with the cost of damage likely to be above $3bn. It’s not yet clear what caused the blast. All rights reserved. In Beirut, thankfully, while building damage has been reported up to 5.6 miles away, because the low-explosive ammonium nitrate made a pressure wave rather than a shock wave, the fatality estimates so far are still in the hundreds, even though the charge size was likely larger than the bomb in Halifax. At 120 meters in diameter, following the explosion of 4.1 million kilos of ammonium nitrate, the size of the Oppau crater supports the idea that the Beirut pier, which early reports said held only 2,750 metric tonsâ2.75 million kilogramsâmay have held some number of millions more kilograms of charge. The suspected cause of the deadly blast in Beirut appears to be a highly-reactive chemical stored in a warehouse at the city's port. But accidental explosions are far less tidy, and their sloppy combustion also produces ash, particulates, and gross black charred contaminated matter. Thatâs slow for a bomb. So, Beirut was at minimum a thousand times more boom than Oklahoma City. First published on Wed 5 Aug 2020 01.51 BST. Ad Choices, The Tragic Physics of the Deadly Explosion in Beirut. The scale of the damage is huge, with buildings miles from the port lying in ruin. Germany, too, knows the destructive power of improperly stored ammonium nitrate, and an accident in that country reinforces the calculation of the charge size. Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud said as many as 300,000 people had been made temporarily homeless and that collective losses might reach $10-15bn (£8-11bn). This black gunk billows into the sky along with the other byproducts, coloring the smoke plume, like the charcoal residue left behind after the more efficient parts of the campfire wood have burned away. It was, sadly, tragically, history repeating itself yet again: Explosives can be devastatingly lethal, and we should never underestimate their destructive fury. Lebanese rescue workers searched for survivors in the mangled wreckage of buildings and investigators blamed negligence for a massive warehouse explosion that sent a … The impact of a pressure wave is like hitting the ground after rolling down a steep cliff; the force of a shock wave is like hitting the ground after falling through the air and reaching terminal velocity. The ground beneath him shook. Medical personnel dealt with as many of the first, second, and even third waves of injured patients as fast as humanly possible, some of them even creating makeshift treatment centers on trains. ASCE NCS November Section Meeting: ASCE Lebanon Section presents to ASCE National Capital Section: Beirut Blast Wave. They rushed in to help. The more mundane explosions are rarely this size, but the same principles of physics and chemistry apply. Walid Assi was cooking at a Beirut pizza joint on Tuesday night when a huge blast wave pushed him down. The explosion did trigger a powerful blast wave that apparently shattered windows across Beirut, and it was briefly visible as an expanding, shell-like cloud – something often seen in historical footage of nuclear detonations. Â© 2020 CondÃ© Nast. In 1917, an accidental detonation of 6 million pounds of hodgepodge high explosives in the harbor of Halifax, Nova Scotia, left a swath of wreckage that, at least until Tuesday, was the largest nonnuclear explosion ever created by humanity. Article content. A shock wave raced from the site of the blast, on Beirut’s industrial waterfront, into the city’s densely populated residential neighborhoods and downtown shopping districts. As reported earlier by Cristina Laila The National News Agency reported that the explosion was at a warehouse for firecrackers near the port.. A Powerful explosion has occured in Beirut. Enough to break all that is within nitrate, when mixed to blow, wants to ditch those Os! 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