Lebanon’s government has blamed a large quantity of poorly stored ammonium nitrate for thehuge blastthat rocked its capital, Beirut, killing scores of people and devastating swathes of the city. What is this chemical, and why did it explode?
Ammonium nitrateis an industrial chemical commonly used around the world as an agricultural fertilizer, and in explosives for mining.
It has also been used as a key component in improvised explosives, notably in the 1995Oklahoma City bombing, in the2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia, and by far-right Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik in his 2011shooting and bombing attack.
In this case, according to Lebanese officials, about 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate had been stockpiled at a Beirut port warehouse, just a few minutes’ walk from the city’s shopping and nightlife districts, since it was confiscated in 2014.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the…
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