Beirut Explosions: ammonium nitrate causes a disaster

explosions port of BeirutOn 4 August 2020, two deafening explosions have devastated the port of Beirut. In the epicentre, the landscape is apocalyptic: broken doors and windows for miles around. The blast of the explosions was felt in Cyprus, about 200 km away from the scene of the accident. The incident has caused more than 100 fatalities and over 4 000 injuries.

According to the Lebanese government, the explosion was due to 2 750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate* that were stored in a warehouse for 6 years.

Such a huge disaster will certainly impact the local insurers and reinsurers who are already struggling with the economic and social crisis in Lebanon. Several stakeholders on the Lebanese insurance market are likely to face tremendous challenges in the upcoming months.

* Ammonium nitrate is a chemical product used in the manufacture of chemical fertilizers, explosives, cooling bags, etc. Over the years, it has caused several industrial disasters such as the AZF plant (France, 2001), Oppau (Germany, 1921), Tessenderlo (Belgium, 1942), Ryongchon (North Korea, 2004).

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