Lebanon marks grim anniversary of Beirut explosion
By Nathan Morley
Thursday marked two years since a huge explosion ripped through the Lebanese capital of Beirut.
The blast was caused by tons of ammonium nitrate, which tore through Beirut Port leaving a trail of devastation.
The chemical is used in fertilisers and bombs had been sitting in storage for years without safety measures.
It is estimated the explosion caused up to $15 billion in damage as well as killing over 200 people, leaving 5,000 injured and 300,000 homeless.
The blast was so loud that it was clearly heard across the Mediterranean on the island of Cyprus, over 100 kilometres away.
Even before the incident, Lebanon was suffering a deep economic crisis and struggling to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
The country recorded record high unemployment levels, lethargic growth and held one of the highest debt ratios anywhere in the Middle East.
Remarkably, an investigation into the cause of the blast has been hindered amid political meddling and no state official has yet been held responsible over the tragedy.
Last week, several of the damaged grain silos that became a grim symbol of the disaster collapsed, and more are close to breaking up.
Over the coming hours, several memorial services will take place, in addition to a demonstration over government inaction on the issue.