Beirut Satellite Images Show Catastrophic Scale of Explosive Damage, 135 Dead

Satellite images of Beirut before and after the colossal explosion depict catastrophic damage.
Brad Bergan

Satellite images broadcast on AFP TV and later posted to YouTube reveal the true extent of catastrophic damage done in Beirut following the ignition of major highly-explosive chemicals in a downtown warehouse with the terrifying force of a small nuclear bomb on Tuesday evening.


Beirut satellite images reveal path of catastrophic destruction

What used to be a warehouse became the epicenter of the explosion, transformed into a watery crater lying next to fractured concrete columns, which were formerly a grain silo.

At least 135 people were killed in the colossal explosion on Tuesday, but this estimate is likely to rise as rescue teams continue to sift through the rubble. Roughly 5,000 people were wounded with dozens missing in the Beirut, the capitol of Lebanon now dubbed a "disaster city" by officials.

As of writing the consensus around the explosion's cause is that a welder created a fire, which spread to a nearby warehouse where some 2,750 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate was stored without sufficient precautions.

Cost of Beirut's new disastrous explosion

Officials estimate the cost of the damage wrought by the explosion to be roughly $5 billion — with damage to half of Beirut's buildings. But the obvious human cost is appalling: roughly 300,000 people were left homeless, with hospitals struggling to catch up to the casualties.

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab swore that whoever is responsible will "pay the price" before declaring a two-week state of emergency to confront the national crisis. Diab asked world leaders and "friends of Lebanon" to donate what they can, saying: "We are witnessing a real catastrophe."

Retribution, restoration as Lebanon receives US, UK, French assistance

The people accountable to port security were placed under house arrest after a cabinet vote by the Lebanese government — however, customs officers prefer to place the blame on the government — who they say was repeatedly warned of the danger, but failed to act.

The U.S., U.K., Gulf states, France, and even Israel have offered financial and logistical assistance as President Michel Aoun announced three days of mourning, declaring his aim to release $66 million of emergency funds.

As the world takes in the shock of what happened in Beirut on Tuesday, the new satellite imagery serves not only to deepen our empathy, but perhaps also to raise awareness about the ways everyone can help the people of Beirut try to recover their livelihood in the wake of one of the biggest catastrophes of 2020.

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