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The people of Beirut, Lebanon are still sorting through the aftermath of massive explosions that rocked the city on Tuesday, killing at least 135 people and injuring another 5,000.
Lebanese General Security Chief Abbas Ibrahim has said the explosions seemed to be triggered by a fire that came in contact with 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, which had been held at the city’s port for years, by some reporting since 2013. Beirut governor Marwan Aboud estimated that approximately 300,000 people have been rendered homeless.
Lebanon was struggling before this disaster, enduring the dual traumas of a severe economic collapse and the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far resulted in over 5,000 confirmed cases and 65 deaths. The Associated Press reported that the blasts destroyed a major wheat silo at the port of Beirut — the loss of that silo and the port itself has raised concerns that existing food insecurity faced by the Lebanese people may soon be exacerbated.
The blasts also come after years of accumulating frustration and outrage that culminated in mass demonstrations last October, during which tens of thousands of protesters spoke out against government corruption and failed leadership while calling for significant reform. Various iterations of those protests have continued ever since.
First responders are continuing to sift through the rubble in search of the lost, injured people are seeking care at hospitals overrun with wounded patients and those with COVID-19 and residents of the city are grappling with what life looks like in the aftermath of this crisis.
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Bella Isaacs-Thomas is a digital reporter on the PBS NewsHour's science desk.
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