Beirut explosion: Animated video shows how massive ammonium nitrate blast unfolded

Modelling shows how grain silo shielded area behind blast 

Emily Goddard
Friday 07 August 2020 16:22 BST
Beirut explosion: Animated video shows how massive ammonium nitrate blast unfolded

A grain silo at Beirut port partly shielded the area behind it from the devastating explosion in the Lebanese capital on Tuesday, a computer-generated analysis video has shown.

The computational fluid dynamics blast study of the 2,750-tonne ammonium nitrate explosion shows the blast wave loading around the harbour asymmetrically because of the grain storage unit.

The video, produced by Will Wholey, Ian Bruce and Julia Abboud from engineering firm Arup and Christopher Stirling, the developer of explosive simulation program Viper::Blast, shows the explosion emanating east and south of the epicentre.

The footage demonstrates how the surrounding terrain was obliterated as the wave expands outwards.

Mr Wholey, a senior resilience, security and risk consultant at Arup, said it is tragic that the blast occurred at all because it was preventable.

He told The Independent: “Our video is not just an aerial of circles on a plan, you can see the buildings and those buildings represent people and their lives and their apartments.

“There’s all sorts of technical things you can talk about but the most important part of this whole story is the people who are affected.”

The explosion hit Beirut’s port district with the force of a magnitude 3.3 earthquake, killing at least 154 people and injuring about 5,000 others.

Mr Wholey said he and his team plan to look at the explosion from several angles and hope it will raise awareness and lead to better regulation and storage of ammonium nitrate.

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