And everything you need to know about the disaster.

By Kimberly Truong
Aug 05, 2020 @ 12:38 pm

On Tuesday, a massive explosion ripped through Beirut, the capitol of Lebanon, killing at least 100 people and injuring more than 4,000, according to CNN. Though the blast has been linked to a warehouse storing thousands of tons of unsecured and potentially highly explosive material, it's still unclear what exactly caused the ignition.

Ahead, everything you need to know about the Beirut explosion and how you can help victims.

What happened?

On Tuesday evening, a powerful blast originating from a port in the capital sent a shockwave through the city, damaging buildings up to six miles away. Though initial reports blamed the blast on a major fire at a firecrackers warehouse near the port, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate, which is typically used as an agricultural fertilizer, had been stored for six years at a warehouse in the port without safety measures, "endangering the safety of citizens," according to CNN.

Abbas Ibrahim, Lebanon's general security chief, said a "highly explosive material" had been confiscated years earlier and stored in the warehouse, located minutes' walk from Beirut's shopping and nightlife districts. Lebanese President Michel Aoun has promised a transparent investigation into the causes of the explosion, and declared a three-day mourning period, adding that the government would release 100 billion lira ($66 million) of emergency funds.

BBC reports the blast was heard 150 miles away on the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean, and that hospitals are overwhelmed and many buildings have been destroyed. In addition to the fatalities and injuries, the New York Times reports tens of thousands have been left homeless, and some 300,000 displaced. The Times also points out that with an untold number of people still missing, officials expect that the reported death toll to rise.

According to CNN, four hospitals are out of service because of damage from the explosion, though health minister Hamad Hassan said Wednesday that the health ministry has an emergency plan with field hospitals being sent from Qatar, Iran, Kuwait, Oman and Jordan. Hassan estimates that six to eight field hospitals will be ready "soon."

Lebanon Blast - Embed

What are the environmental repercussions?

In addition to death tolls and injuries from the destruction, residents are facing the possible dangers of being exposed to ammonium nitrate. According to BBC, when ammonium nitrate explodes, it can release toxic gases including nitrogen oxides and ammonia gas.

"If there isn't much wind, it could become a danger to the people nearby," Professor Andrea Sella, a professor of chemistry at University College London, told BBC.

How can you help?

Here are a few organizations you can donate to in order to help victims:

Lebanese Red Cross

The Lebanese Red Cross has 3000 emergency medical technicians and 300+ ambulances, and has asked people to donate directly to them as opposed to unauthorized third parties fundraising on their behalf. Donate here.

Impact Lebanon disaster relief fund

The non-profit organization has set up a JustGiving page crowdfunding for disaster relief, with a goal of £5,000,000. Impact Lebanon says it will coordinate with non-governmental organizations that require aid in the aftermath of the explosion. Donate here.

Beit el Baraka

Beit el Baraka is a Beirut-based non-profit that helps families and elderly people in Lebanon who are struggling with the cost of living. In light of the explosion, the organization said it is going to help fix the homes of families that were damaged. You can donate here.

Embrace Lifeline

Embrace Lifeline provides mental health support for those in need in Lebanon. You can donate here.

How can you stay updated?

As news continues to break about the explosion, it's important to be mindful of sharing unverified information and potentially triggering posts. That said, it's also important to stay informed.

The Guardian, The New York Times, and CNN are all providing live updates on the disaster.