Middle East Online

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Massive Beirut blast leaves up to 300,000 homeless

A huge blast in Beirut has left 300,000 people homeless and caused damage across half of the city estimated to cost more than $3 billion, its governor said on Wednesday.

“I think there are between 250,000 and 300,000 people who are now without homes,” said Marwan Aboud, adding that the estimated cost of the damage from Tuesday’s explosion was between $3.0 billion and $5.0 billion dollars.

Engineers and technical teams have yet to conduct an official assessment, he said, adding that damage from the blast in the port area seems to have extended over half of the city.

Fireworks and ammonium nitrate appear to have been the fuel that ignited the massive explosion, experts and videos of the blast suggest.

The scale of the damage — from the epicentre of the explosion at the port of Beirut to the windows blown out kilometres (miles) away — resembles other blasts involving the chemical compound commonly used as an agricultural fertilizer.

But the compound itself typically doesn’t detonate on its own and requires another ignition source. That likely came from a fire that engulfed what initially appeared to be fireworks that were stored at the port. Source