DUBAI: Almost three of four readers think there is more to the massive explosions that hit a Beirut port on Tuesday, according to an Arab News straw poll on Twitter.
The blast, caused by a stockpile ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse, generated a shock wave so devastating that it levelled buildings near the port and caused extensive damage over much of the rest of the capital, killing more than 100 people and injuring thousands.
The impact of the blast was also reportedly felt 200 kilometers away in Cyprus.
Specifically, 73 percent of more than 1,000 readers who responded to the poll do not believe the explosion was an accident compared to about 27 percent who thought it was back luck that the ammonium nitrate – unsafely stored for six years – has been the cause of the deadly Beirut blast.
The enormous explosion consequently created a mushroom cloud over Beirut, stoking fears and rumors on social media and, among conspiracy theorists, that a nuclear bomb has been detonated in the Lebanese capital due to the sheer magnitude of the blast.
About 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate was involved during Tuesday’s explosion. Ammonium nitrate is a crystal-like white solid commonly used as a source of nitrogen for agricultural fertilizer, and is relatively safe when stored properly. It, however, becomes deadly as an explosive when mixed with other chemicals and fuel oils.
— Arab News (@arabnews) August 5, 2020
Some experts pointed out that people who are not accustomed to seeing large explosions may confuse mushroom clouds and spherical blast waves as nuclear in nature.
Others believed the Beirut explosion lacked two hallmarks of a nuclear detonation: a ‘blinding white flash’ and a thermal pulse, or surge of heat, which would otherwise had started fires all over the area and severely burned people’s skin.