On August 4th, one of the largest explosions in history shook Beirut, Lebanon, originating from the port of Beirut. The Lebanese government reported that the blast was caused by the ignition of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse. While there are several conflicting accounts as to what ignited the chemicals, the resulting blast damaged buildings within a 6-mile radius, while its effects were felt in Cyprus, nearly 160 miles away. At least 150 people were killed and another 5,000 injured in the initial explosion, with hundreds of thousands more left homeless and without water or electricity.
Before the explosion, the country had been suffering from an economic crisis and high poverty rates, which were only increasing due to the pandemic. As a result, victims of the explosion overwhelmed hospitals, which were already overflowing from the pandemic. Some doctors and nurses were even forced to treat patients on the street. Meanwhile, the destruction of the port is preventing supplies from entering the country as quickly as before.
Considering the government’s failure to safely regulate the storage of the ammonium nitrate, many people turned to protest, causing the main government leaders to step down on August 10th. As Lebanon recovers from the explosion, there are several ways in which you can help. The Lebanese Red Cross is the best option as the organization is currently working to transport and treat the injured, perform search-and-rescue operations, and provide essential supplies to those left homeless in the wake of the explosion. Other organizations that you might consider donating to include the Lebanese Food Bank, which provides meals to those in need, and Impact Lebanon, which is collecting and distributing funds to various disaster relief organizations.
Even if you can’t donate, spreading the word about organizations to donate to and sharing the stories of Lebanese people impacted by the explosion are invaluable to those who are going through two life-threatening crises simultaneously.