Beirut Explosion: Ammonium Nitrate To Be Blamed But Not The First Time

Beirut port blast: 'It's a disaster in every sense of the word' Let's now learn what caused this massive explosion, and also its reoccurring tragic accidents through out the world

Beirut Explosion: Ammonium Nitrate To Be Blamed But Not The First Time

Devastating videos of Beirut explosion is still doing the rounds online. So if anyone’s curious enough to know what caused the attack and how dangerous it was. So let us all know it wasn’t the first time.

Source: The Guardian

In ordinary circumstances, ammonium nitrate is fertilizer. But when placed under stress of heat and pressure, it acts like a nuclear bomb. The blast is one of the largest accidental ammonium nitrate explosions ever recorded— so powerful that it was heard more than 200 kilometers away in Cyprus.

Source: BBC news

But know this, it’s not the first time. They have happened throughout the 20th century, most notably in the United States. Here are 6 extreme explosions that occurred over the years from 2000.

1. Faversham, United Kingdom: 2nd April 1916

 Explosion happened through the gunpowder mill at Uplees, Faversham when a store of 200 tons of TNT and ammonium nitrate exploded after empty sacks caught fire. The explosion reportedly killed at least 108 people. It was the worst in the history of the British explosives industry, and is remembered all over the UK as The Great Explosion.


2. Oppau, Germany: 21st September 1921

A humongous blast occurred at a BASF chemical plant in Ludwigshafen in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany killed 559 people and injured 1,977. Cause was the explosion of about 400 metric tons of a mixture of ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate that lead to a blast that could be heard in Munich, 300 km away. 

Few months before this incident happened an explosion of ammonium nitrate had killed at least 19 people in Kriewald.

3. Tessenderlo, Belgium: 29th April 1942

An enormous explosion of 150 tonnes  ammonium nitrate with industrial explosives destroyed the entire factory and surrounding area, 189 people lost their lives and more than 900 were injured.

4. Texas City, USA: 16th April 1947

The towering explosion set a mushroom cloud more than 2,000 feet toward the sky,and  triggered a massive fire in a chemical plant. More than 500 people lost their lives to this explosion, while thousands were injured. 

5. Ryongchŏn, North Korea: 22nd April 2004

Explosives and ammonium nitrate-laden train causes fireball in Ryongchŏn, a town near the Chinese border. At least 150 people were killed, and more than 1,200 injured. The explosions reportedly ripped through 8,000 homes. 

6. Port of Tianjin, China: 12th August 2015

A series of explosions killed 173 people, that took place at a warehouse at the port which contained flammable chemicals, such as calcium carbide, sodium cyanide, potassium nitrate, ammonium nitrate and sodium nitrate.

The next big explosion after China was the one in Beirut just few days ago.

Given the history of extreme explosions that occurred over the years, we all need to be little concerned over the fact that, we have 740 tonnes of the explosive chemicals in storage for years on the outskirts of Chennai, under the custody of the Customs Department.

Although, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs has informed about directing field offices to check if all explosive materials lying in Customs warehouses and ports were safe. 


 That being said by the Officials, Government should be way to cautious,

It shouldn't always take an explosion for us to wake up and ensure safety procedures are intact!