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05 August 2020

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Leith

McVeigh added nitromethane to his fertilizer bomb. That turned it into ANNM with double the detonation velocity of ammonium nitrate alone and 1.5 times the detonation velocity of ANFO (ammonium nitrate and fuel oil). The increased det velocity gave it much more brisance (i.e a shattering capability to break concrete and cut steel). If that had been used in Beirut then IMO the city would have been completely flattened.

They may have to tear down all or most of the buildings in the central district. With the port devastated, I hope the airport is functional. They are going to need a Berlin Airlift for medical supplies and foodstuffs.

The Beaver

Colonel

The fire in the fireworks warehouse could have been deliberately set or it may have been an accident caused by some ass smoking in the building or some such thing.

It is welding

"Some 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate unloaded from a disabled vessel in 2014 had been stored in a port warehouse. Then yesterday, a welding accident ignited nearby fireworks — which caused the ammonium nitrate to explode."

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/opinion/beirut-explosions.html?smid=tw-share

jon stanley

the reporter is pronouncing it Beiru...dropping the t. Probably a communications major with a minor in feminist studies.

Barbara Ann

"In honor of "Valentine's Day", we got a "spectacular pyrotechnics show" at the Port of Beirut."

Moshe Feiglin, a former Likud MK and head of the Zehut party, posted this on his Facebook page a few hours ago, in reference to the Beirut blast. Facebook, with algorithmic irony have censored the attached photo of the blast wave with "This photo may contain cruel or insensitive content."

I try to avoid wishing people harm, but in Moshe's case I may make an exception.

https://www.facebook.com/MFeiglin/photos/a.545719195507200/3225157230896703

W.J. Wilkening

In September 2018 PM Netanyahu spoke to the UN Assembly about missile factories being concealed in the heart of Beirut and using its citizens as human shields. The photo of the sites he held up during his speech is remarkably close to the area that exploded yesterday. Is it at all possible that this was actually what blew up and not a confiscated shipment of ammonium nitrate?

Account Deleted

Texas City all over again.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_City_disaster

John Minnerath

So far this has been called an Ammonium Nitrate explosion. There have been a few accidental detonations with it before. but as far as I know, it had all been prepared as ANFO. The AN mixed with the correct proportion of FO (fuel oil, usually diesel)

I've read there were 2 explosions close together.

There were a number of silos filled with grain, were there also grain mills in close proximity? A ready made dust initiator.

Then there was a large amount of fireworks stored nearby.

ANFO alone is very stable and needs a high powered detonator to set it off, it takes something at least the power of 40% dynamite. Large fireworks, especially the bigger commercial types could do it.
Then there is the possibility if a grain dust explosion thrown in.

It's going to take some serious study to figure out just what initiated this huge explosion.
Everything needed was there for an incredible act of sabotage.

Leith

Mike 46 -

Or the BASF fertilizer plant explosion at Oppau in 1921. Killed 560 and injured thousands.

John Minnerath

Mike46

In the Texas City explosion the Ammonium Nitrate had been prilled with a combination of Resin, petrolatum, and paraffin wax to stop caking. Which served as the fuel component.

On big blasting jobs in the Alaska arctic we would bring in ANFO by the barge load. We sometimes had tons left at the end of the job and it cost too much to get it out. So, we burned it, by front end loader bucket fulls. Stuff burns with intensity, but it won't detonate from the fire.

turcopolier

john minnerath

What was your MOS in SF?

turcopolier

JM

Seems to me that if the AN took a direct hit from an exploding firework it might well go boom!

John Minnerath

PL

121.23

Yes, it's possible, especially given the devils brew that was going on. Black powder can be used to detonate ANFO if everything is set up right.

Leith

John M -

33 recorded accidental ammonium nitrate explosions prior to Beirut. Only three were known to involve ANFO: Traskwood Arkansas 1960, Kansas City Missouri 1988, and Monclova Mexico 2007.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonium_nitrate_disasters


j. casey

Nasrallah spoken yet? Will this change the ROE?

Account Deleted

From a story in AlJazeera:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/officials-knew-danger-beirut-port-years-200805032416684.html

"he ship's dangerous cargo was then offloaded and placed in Hangar 12 of Beirut port, a large grey structure facing the country's main north-south highway at the main entrance to the capital.

Months later, on June 27, 2014, then-director of Lebanese Customs Shafik Merhi sent a letter addressed to an unnamed "Urgent Matters judge", asking for a solution to the cargo, according to documents shared online.

Customs officials sent at least five more letters over the next three years - on December 5, 2014, May 6, 2015, May 20, 2016, October 13, 2016, and October 27, 2017 - asking for guidance and warning that the material posed a danger, Badri Daher, the current director of Lebanese Customs, told broadcaster LBCI on Wednesday.

They proposed three options: Export the ammonium nitrate, hand it over to the Lebanese Army, or sell it to the privately-owned Lebanese Explosives Company.

One letter sent in 2016 noted there had been "no reply" from judges to previous requests.

It pleaded: "In view of the serious danger of keeping these goods in the hangar in unsuitable climatic conditions, we reaffirm our request to please request the marine agency to re-export these goods immediately to preserve the safety of the port and those working in it, or to look into agreeing to sell this amount" to the Lebanese Explosives Company.

Again, there was no reply.

A year later, Daher, the new Lebanese Customs director, wrote to a judge once again.

In the October 27, 2017, letter, Daher urged the judge to come to a decision on the matter in view of "the danger ... of leaving these goods in the place they are, and to those working there".

Nearly three years later, the ammonium nitrate was still in the hangar.

Leith

ImageSatInternational has posted a pic showing a two km radius radius with most severe damage.

https://twitter.com/ImageSatIntl/status/1290997949133135873/photo/1

But at ten km south the airport terminal building took some damage. Runway is fine. Qatari C-17 should have already landed there with two 500-bed field hospitals.

https://lebanon.liveuamap.com/en/2020/4-august-even-the-beirut-airport-around-10-km-from-the-explosion.

And ten km NE at the US Embassy doors were blown open and windows rattled but they are open for business.


BABAK MAKKINEJAD

Leith

Airlift is already taking place:

Russia,
Jordan,
Greece,
Iran,
UAE,
Qatar

to name a few.

The Twisted Genius

The Beirut Airport appears to have been shielded from the blast by the city of Beirut if the blast even reached that far south. It's functional. In addition, Tripoli also has port facilities. Jouneih, also north of Beirut, could be pressed into service for smaller cargo vessels or ferry traffic. We always entered and exited Lebanon through Jouneih rather than through Beirut Airport in the 80s.

The grain silos appear to have suffered from the blast rather than contributing to it. The silos may have shielded the area out of the blast from some of its effects. My money is on an industrial accident involving welding, fireworks and the ammonium nitrate. Lord knows what conditions that was stored under over the years and what else may have been stored there..

turcopolier

Scarlett O'Hara

It is more likely to be incompetence piled high upon ineptitude.

turcopolier

JM

That would be an engineer/demo type? I was prefix "3" qualified with that hung on either an infantry officer MOS or that of a clan collection MI guy depending on when we are talking about.

turcopolier

TTG

That airport has bad associations for me. I was on a flight that landed there in the middle of the night in a massive electrical storm. Why go to Disneyland when you can do that?

Polish Janitor

Very sad day for the people of Lebanon. Just when you thought things could not get any worse for Lebanon, and boom this happens...

In general, the dire situation in Lebanon is the result of mismanagement/corruption, the division of power in the parliament along very shaky ethnic and religious lines which is a recipe for disaster, and more importantly the U.S. sanctions imposed on the people with the ultimate aim of driving Hezbollah out of Lebanon which is a cruel form of collective punishment.

The explosion yesterday happened at the main port in northwestern Beirut, demographically the district is mostly Sunni and the most wealthiest and upscale, hence the location for foreign embassies and consulates and the majority of offices and service sector, while the Southern Shi'ite with 700-800k is mostly poor and working class and supporters of Hezb. The Druze dwell the northern and hilly parts and the Christians/Armenians in the east.

The port is (and has always been) under the control of Sunnis and NOT the Hezb, and there has not been any report of ammunition being stored at the port. This is clear as daylight, the ammunition caches reach the country by land not the sea, hence Israelis' constant bombing of caravans in Syria and Iraq en route Lebanon.

But there has been one 'anomaly' at the site of the explosion. According to Elijah Magnier, a veteran Middle-Eastern journalist based in Lebanon, there were traces of some kind of "poisonous substance" at the site of the explosion according to one port authority (1) (link below). He did not clarified what substance and I don't think he was referring to NO2. Anyhow, the incident is now being investigated by the Lebanese Army intelligence and will probably come out tomorrow or the day after.

Lastly, Sa'ad Hariri's condemnation of the government for the incident which is really aimed at Hezb is not only dishonest but very opportunistic during this time of national mourning. Those who follow ME politics, especially Lebanon's know the reality on the ground. If it were not for Hez's detterence, Israel would have bombed/invaded the country many times.

Never mind the fact that it was during Hariri's tenure as PM that the whole ponzi-scheme ran by the Lebanese banks took off, the political/economic/bureaucratic patronage matured and then last year in the midst of street protests and national crisis under the direction of 'KSA he suddenly resigned in order to bring the whole government down and everyone with him for certain political goals. These people are experts in crating failed states.

My question to all is that, given the current heartbreaking situation in Lebanon with close of 300k refugees, death toll of 150 and counting, $30B in damage, and shortage of food (because of the destruction of grain silos at the port) and supplies, will the United States lift its devastating sanctions against Lebanon now?

1. https://twitter.com/ejmalrai/status/1291039433844760583

2. Btw, the incident occurred shortly after this: https://www.israelhayom.com/2020/08/04/lebanon-calls-israeli-threats-a-declaration-of-war/

The Twisted Genius

pl,

I've never been to that airport. We came in from Cyprus by CH-47 to Jouneih and then trucked into the mountains. I only saw the airport looking down from those mountains. The worst flight I ever had was from Albany to NYC enroute to Germany with my family. It was an electrical storm as well. I thought the wings were going to come off. There were three women going into hysterics. SWMBO and my sons were fine, but just as worried as I was.

John Minnerath

PL

121 was the old Army MOS for Combat Engineer, Since at my time SF had no MOS numbers of their own us Demo guys were given 121. Guess they figured it was the only one that fit. Most of the senior NCO's were WWII and Korea and those who had been real Combat Engineer's were a bit pissed that us guys trained in only one part of the job were given that MOS. The "2" was for additional level of training, I remember when I got the 2 added I got a slight bump in pay.

The "3" came later. The "7" for Airborne was changed to 3. Some guys got it some didn't and not much about what it meant was forthcoming. When I asked an officer friend about it, he laughed and said I didn't have a high enough security clearance to be told anything.
I was on a standby list and required to notify DA within 48 hours of any change in my address. Suddenly, out of the blue, about 10 years after I got out, I got a letter from DA telling me I no longer had to keep them advised of where I was. And that was it.
In the 70's a few friends were contacted and asked if they would voluntarily go back on active duty. By that time we had families, jobs, etc. and no one I knew went back in.

Markopasha

The worst is yet to come. Those silos were the main national grain storage elevator. Looks like one side was taken out, grain spoiled. Not sure if the grain elevator is even operational on the other side, let alone if the structure is stable. Without drastic action, we could see mass starvation.
It was always an old "agreement" in Lebanon by all sides that you don't touch those silos. I think the Israelis may have accidentally bombed it once, but that's about it. This could result in a catastrophe.

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