© 2020 Maxar Technologies; BlackSky Global Monitoring
New satellite images show after Tuesday’s massive, deadly explosion in the port of Beirut.
Image taken by the satellite company BlackSky shows major damage to the port after the explosion. Several warehouses appear to have been leveled, and a cruise ship called the Orient Queen can be seen, described on one side, according to Alison Puccioni, an analyst and founder of Armillary Services, an independent firm that partners with BlackSky.
“The whole storage infrastructure is leveled,” says Puccioni. “You can see some of the foundations and supporting columns in some of the buildings, but it’s just destroyed.”
Debris covering a main road more than 1,000 feet south of the blast site can also be seen in the image, a sign of the force of the explosion. And Puccioni says the heavy damage stretches for more than half a mile in the city. The blast killed at least 100 people and injured thousands more.
The image of BlackSky and the image of the trading company Planet show a lot of smoke or debris still rising from the site around 8:00 a.m. Local time Wednesday – more than 12 hours after the explosion.
Before and after images from SkySat show the impact of yesterday’s explosion in Beirut.
Photos taken on May 31, 2020 and today, August 5, 2020 pic.twitter.com/8zCLDOZn4w
– Planet (@planetlabs) August 5, 2020
Photographs taken later in the morning by Maxar show the main fire extinguished.
Reports indicate that the incident started when a fire in one part of the port reached a huge cache of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which had been unloaded months earlier. The manure, which is highly explosive, exploded almost instantly in an explosion so large that the US Geological Survey registered it as a magnitude 3.3 earthquake.
© 2020 Maxar Technologies
Videos and reports suggest that the shock wave traveled miles from the site, and the windows were reportedly shaken to Cyprus.
The explosion was so large that some feared it might be nuclear. Independent analysts quickly dismissed these rumors, but preliminary calculations show that the explosion could have been in the range of 0.2-0.5 kilotons. By comparison, the atomic bomb that fell on Hiroshima 75 years ago this week was 15 kilotons.
The bags say “NITROPRILL HD”, which may be a shot of Nitropril made by Orica.
Orica sets the TNT fire equivalent to 15 percent.
.15 x 2750 = 412.5
Another point of data that suggests that the explosion was several hundred tons. https://t.co/ucuHdpazm3
– Jeffrey Lewis (@ArmsControlWonk) August 4, 2020
The full extent of the damage is difficult to estimate from space due to Beirut’s older buildings and compact layout, Puccioni said. However, she is amazed by the size of the explosion. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”