Explained: Beirut Blast and ammonium nitrate

Beirut,the capital of Lebanon experienced a massive explosion on 4th August.The explosion had taken lives of at least 135 people and left injured over 5000. Let’s learn.

Explained Beirut Blast and ammonium nitrate

Two consecutive and horrific explosion happened at Beirut port silos at afternoon on 4th August.The explosion was caused by over 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate kept in warehouse. The blast covered around 10-20 km area around the port. It was reported that the explosion was so strong that it was felt from even 250 kilometres away.

Do You Know?
The Beirut blast created seismic waves equivalent of a magnitude 3.3 earthquake as per the reports of CNN.
How Did The Catastrophe Happen


The story of Beirut blast began in September 2013. A ship was heading towards Mozambique from Georgia. The ship docked at Beirut poet due to some technical issue. It came out that the ship contained 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate. The ships owner abandoned that ship to avoid legal queries. Then the ship’s departure was also came standstill trapping into legal procedures. Since then the 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate  is kept in a ware house nearby a port. It shows a huge level of negligence from the concerned authority.

What is ammonium nitrate?


  • ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) is a white, crystalline solid chemical.
  • The chemical is industrially produced in large scale by the chemical reaction of ammonia with concentrated nitric acid.

Production of ammonium nitrate

  • ammonium nitrate is soluble in water.
  • It is a common chemical ingredient which is used as agricultural fertiliser.
  • ammonium nitrate is widely used as the ingredient of commercial explosives used in mining and construction.
  • The explosive composition known as ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO)
  • terrorists use ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO) in making Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)
  • Pure form of ammonium nitrate is not an explosive material.
  • When ammonium nitrate is mixed with fuel or some other contaminants, it becomes a deadly explosive.
  • ammonium nitrate is classified as an oxidiser (Grade 5.1) under the United Nations classification of dangerous goods.
  • Explosion of ammonium nitrate produces huge amounts of nitrogen oxides. Nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) is a reddish gas that causes serious respiratory illness in humans.

    It can irritate the respiratory system. Elevated levels of these pollutants are particularly concerning for people with respiratory

Regulation of ammonium nitrate  in India


  • 1The usage of ammonium nitrate  is regulated as per The Ammonium Nitrate Rules, 2012, under The Explosives Act, 1884.
  • The Ammonium Nitrate Rules, 2012, under The Explosives Act, 1884 declares storage of ammonium nitrate in large quantities in populated areas as an illegal activity and the act seeks license for any activity involving ammonium nitrate.
  • The Industrial Development and Regulation Act, 1951 comes into play for the manufacture of ammonium nitrate under industrial use.
Chief Concerns in India


Recently Customs department in India reported storage of 740 tonne of ammonium nitrate in a freight station in Chennai Seaport. The need of the hour is to check all the sea ports of the country whether it stores illegal ammonium nitrate or not.The enforcement of the concerned laws should be made more stringent to avoid such incidents at nay cost.

    Our condolences and thoughts are with the victims of the Beirut blast, their families and friends and with all the people of Lebanon. The time is challenging for the Lebanon. The country already is in economic crisis and continuously confronting with Hezbollah militant group. The blast has deepened all the crisis the nation is struggling with. International organisations like UNICEF, UNESCO and many NGOs are working hard with the victims in ground level to provide them assistance and supporting with medicines and vaccines. We stand in solidarity in this tragic time.

Support UNICEF’s work to protect and care for Lebanon’s children by donation.

The Beirut Blast is a eye opener for all the countries around the world.It shows how the corruption and negligence of concerned authorities could cost lives of innocent people.

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