Beirut Blast: A port city in crisis

A. Mehan, Maurice Jansen

Research output: Non-textual formWeb publication/siteScientific

Abstract

On 4th of August 2020, the Lebanese capital and port city, Beirut, was rocked by a massive explosion that has killed hundreds and injured thousands more, ravaging the heart of the city’s nearby downtown business district and neighbouring housing areas, where more than 750,000 people live. The waterfront neighbourhood and a number of dense residential neighbourhoods in the city’s eastern part were essentially flattened. Lebanese Government officials believe that the blast was caused by around 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored near the city’s cargo port without proper control for six years. The disaster devastating Beirut’s port and city shows the latent danger of safe storage of potentially dangerous goods in modern ports, particularly ones located close to the heart of the city. The huge blast tore through major grain silos, stoking fears of shortages in a nation that imports nearly all its food and is already reeling from economic crisis. As the WFP (World Food Programme) said in a statement: the blast will “exacerbate the grim economic and food-security situation.” The Beirut blast also reminds us of the importance of ports in the contemporary globalized world. It calls our attention to safety and security, of governance and collaboration between port and city or region and of accessibility to the hinterland. What do local governments and port cities need to do to enhance the safety and security issues in port terminals? Or, to put it differently, how do we reconcile this challenge between the ports we need to feed us, serve us, provide us with medicines, equipment, etc. and the ports that threatens us?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

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