On August 4, 2020, at around 6:00pm, a warehouse at the Beirut Port containing large quantities of ammonium nitrate exploded. After an initial explosion, a subsequent blast caused widespread damage, with reports of damage more than 20 km from the port area. The explosions and ensuing fires reportedly released toxic materials in the environment1.
Hundreds of buildings including grain silos storing around 85 percent of the country’s grain, and numerous residential places have been damaged or destroyed, including many healthcare facilities and several major hospitals in Greater Beirut area, due to the blast. Official governmental reports estimate that more than 135 people were killed and over 5,000 are injured, and more than 300,000 people left homeless in the Greater Beirut area. Beirut's governor estimated the damages costs ranging from $3-5 billion, and calls for international aid to Lebanon.
Hospitals are overloaded with casualties and that many patients have been treated on sidewalks and in parking lots, others have been referred to nearby health care centres/ hospitals in the nearby areas. While many ICUs are already reaching capacity with COVID-19 patients, this blast has cause extra tension on the already stretched health care system.
On 5th August, the Government of Lebanon declared a two-week state of emergency in Beirut. While Lebanon is already struggling from the financial crisis, economic contractions and the USD devaluation, and hosting large number of refugees this explosion came to deepen the crises and put extra pressure on both the Lebanese population, the Lebanese government and the refugee’s communities. On top of these, COVID-19 is straining the country’s health systems, and as of August 4, 2020 Lebanon has reported a total of 5,062 cases