The Beirut port explosion that took place on August 4 was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded, researchers from Sheffield University’s Civil and Structural Engineering department said in a report.
The study found that the size of the explosion was the equivalent of between 500-1100 tonnes of TNT, releasing enough energy in a matter of milliseconds to power around 100 homes for a year.
According to the researchers, the blast is around 1/20th of the size of the atomic bomb that was used on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 and is one of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded.
The team analyzed videos of the explosion posted on social media to estimate the power of the blast by tracking how the explosion’s shockwave spread through the city killing 193 persons and wounding more than 6,500.
Investigations into the disaster determined that the explosion was the result of an accidental detonation of nearly three kilotons of ammonium nitrate, which had been stored without proper safety measures in one of the port’s warehouses since 2014.
Dr. Sam Rigby, Senior Lecturer in Blast and Impact Engineering at the University of Sheffield, said: “After seeing the events unfold, we wanted to use our expertise in blast engineering to help understand what had happened in Beirut and provide data that could be used to help prepare for, and save lives in such events should they ever happen again."
“By understanding more about the power of large scale accidental explosions like the one that occurred in Beirut, we can develop more accurate predictions of how different buildings will be affected, and the types of injuries there are likely to be at different distances from the blast.”