Port of Beirut Explosion Anniversary in Lebanon Date in the current year: August 4, 2022

Port of Beirut Explosion Anniversary in Lebanon The anniversary of the 2020 Beirut explosion is a national day of mourning and a public holiday in Lebanon. It is observed annually on August 4 to pay tribute to the victims of the explosion at the Port of Beirut that killed over 200 people, injured 7,000, and leaved approximately 300,000 people homeless.

The roots of the accident at the Port of Beirut can be traced back to 2013, when the cargo ship MV Rhosus carrying ammonium nitrate ported in Beirut. It was inspected by port state control and deemed unseaworthy due to a number of deficiencies. Several months later, the ship was seized by the Beirut port authority due to accruing thousands of dollars in port fees and fines. Its dangerous cargo was brought ashore and placed in a warehouse at the Port of Beirut.

Ammonium nitrate confiscated from MV Rhosus was stored in the hangar for the next six years. Although customs officials sent at least six letters to judges of Urgent Matters, pleading to find a way to remove the dangerous cargo from the hangar by re-exporting, selling, or giving it to the Lebanese Armed Forces, they received no answer, and the 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate remained at the port.

On August 4, 2020, a fire broke out in the warehouse storing the cargo from MV Rhosus. About 20 minutes later, an explosion supposedly set off by a stash of fireworks that were also stored there heavily damaged the warehouse structure. The second explosion occurred about half a minute later. It was so powerful that the blast shook the whole country and was felt in Syria, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, and even parts of Europe. The United States Geological Survey detected the explosion as a seismic event with a magnitude of 3.3.

218 people died and more than 7,000 were injured by the blast. At least 150 of those injured became permanently disabled. The explosion destroyed a grain elevator, stripping Lebanon of its grain reserves amid food shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and damaged buildings as far as 6 miles away from its epicenter, leaving approximately 300,000 people homeless. The blast also damaged Saint George Hospital, several museums and historic landmarks, a number of foreign embassies, and Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport.

The government of Lebanon declared a state of emergency to respond to the disaster and launched an investigation to determine its cause (as of July 2022, the exact cause of the explosion was still under investigation). The Port of Beirut explosion was one of the causes of the 17 October Protests against the inefficiency of the state government.

In July 2021, the government of Lebanon declared the anniversary of the explosion a national day of mourning to be observed annually. On the first anniversary of the explosion, a memorial event was held at the Port of Beirut. It was attended by government officials, who were joined by representatives of the United Nations and the International Labor Organization. Since the anniversary of the 2020 Beirut explosion is a public holiday, government offices, schools, banks etc. are closed for the day.

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Category

Public Holidays

Country

Lebanon

Tags

Port of Beirut explosion anniversary in Lebanon, holidays in Lebanon, public holidays, national day of mourning, 2020 Beirut explosion