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Beirut Explosion Equivalent To Several Hundred Tons TNT – Experts

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Beirut Explosion: Blast Equivalent To Several Hundred Tons TNT - Experts

At least 135 people were killed and thousands of others injured after two massive explosions at the Beirut port warehouse, where about 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were stored. The investigators alleged the possible negligence in the storage of tonnes of a highly explosive fertilizer in a waterfront warehouse. The Lebonan Government ordered the house arrest of several port officials.

According to a report by Science Alert, “Experts told that the blast likely had an explosive yield of several hundred tons of TNT equivalent.” Some experts have estimated the explosive yield for what happened in Beirut to be one to two kilotons, which would make the blast potentially more powerful than some of the smaller US tactical nukes.

What happened in Beirut Port?

A massive explosion took place at the Beirut port on Tuesday 18:00 hrs (15:00 GMT) after a fire at the port which sent a shock wave throughout the downtown city. Videos of the blast, which went viral on social media showed smoke fill out from the warehouse on the waterfront before a huge explosion produced a dome-shaped cloud that covered that section of the city centre. The force of the blast did enormous damage to the surrounding neighbourhoods. It overspread the city in rubble and ash for miles around.

Local media footage showed people trapped beneath debris, wrecked cars and blast-damaged buildings.

The second blast shot an enormous orange fireball into the sky, shortly followed by a tornado-like shockwave that crushed the port and shattered glasses on windows across the city.

Red Cross along with the Lebanese health ministry, is working on setting up morgues. A search and rescue operation is still underway to locate the more than 100 missing people, with more than 5,000 injured and the number might increase.

Hamad Hassan, Lebanon’s Public Health Minister, said the national health sector was in short of beds and lacked the equipment necessary to treat the injured and provide requisite medical care for patients in a critical condition. He added that he is afraid that the death toll might rise further.

The blast was also felt 240km (150 miles) away on the Cyprus’ capital Nicosia, eastern Mediterranean, and was registered by seismologists as the equivalent of a 3.3-magnitude earthquake.

According to the Beirut’s Governor, Marwan Abboud about three lakh people are left homeless with damages amounting anywhere from 10-15 billion dollars. He further added that the authorities are working to provide food and temporary shelter to the displaced.

What caused the explosion?

Officials say the blast occurred when a fire at a warehouse on the city’s waterfront ignited a stockpile of explosive ammonium nitrate that was stored after unloading from a ship seized at the port in 2013—however, authorities investigating probe alleged negligence in storing dangerous chemicals.

Another set bleak tale of chronic negligence started over six years ago, when a troubled and indebted, Russian-leased vessel and its volatile cargo ship made an unscheduled stop at the city’s port. It ended on Tuesday in multiple giant explosion.

The ship was in bad condition, crewed by irritable sailors and dogged by a small hole in its hull that meant water had to be continuously pumped out. The ship carried a volatile cargo, more than 2,000 tons of ammonium nitrate, a flammable material used to make fertilizers — and bombs — that was destined for Mozambique.

The ship, the Rhosus, arrived in Beirut in 2013 never made it to the destination as it was entangled in a financial and diplomatic dispute, causing to be abandoned by the Russian businessman who had leased it. The ammonium nitrate inside the ship was transferred to a dockside warehouse in Beirut and exploded on Tuesday.

The story of the ship and its deadly cargo, which emerged on Wednesday in accounts from Lebanon, Russia and Ukraine, offered a bitter tale about how legal battles, financial bickering and, apparently, prolonged negligence, set the stage for a horrific occurrence that devastated one of the Middle East’s most fondly regarded cities.

Senior customs officials wrote to the Lebanese courts at least six times from 2014 to 2017, seeking guidance on how to dispose of the ammonium nitrate, according to public records posted to social media by a Lebanese lawmaker, Salim Aoun.

The customs officials had suggested several solutions including donating the ammonium nitrate to the Lebanese Army, or selling it to the privately-owned Lebanese Explosives Company. However, judiciary failed to respond to the same.

What is ammonium nitrate?

It is a chemical compound predominantly used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertilizer. It is also used to make explosives and was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City attack.

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Who is the primary suspect?

The Lebanese Government questioned why the explosive chemicals were stored at the port. Authorities haven’t said what caused the fire but have said it wasn’t an attack. No one has claimed responsibility for the fire or the explosion. However, President Donald Trump on Tuesday called it a “terrible attack” and that the US military generals told him a “bomb of some kind might cause the powerful explosion.”

COVID-19 in Lebanon

The explosion came at a sensitive time for Lebonan, as a rising number of Coronavirus cases have strained the country’s healthcare system. On Tuesday, 177 new cases were reported, and with the steady rise in the cases, the hospitals were already struggling to cope. Many of Beirut’s hospitals were quickly overwhelmed after the blast, owing to the country’s poor infrastructure and the already strained resources that were devoted to fighting the pandemic.

Moreover, Lebanon is also going through an economic crisis. Even so, the imported food and large quantities of grain stored in the port have been destroyed, causing fears of widespread scarcity of food to come.

The future of the port itself is in doubt due to the destruction caused. Many building and homes have been reduced to an uninhabitable mess of glass, and as many as 300,000 people have been left homeless, Beirut’s governor Marwan Aboud said.

President Aoun announced that the Government would release 100 billion lire (66 million US dollar) of emergency funds. Still, the impact of the blast on the economy is expected to prevail for long.

Situation in Lebanon Now:

Lebanon’s already fragile economy has worsened rapidly amid lockdowns imposed to halt the spread of the coronavirus. The value of the country’s currency has plunged in recent months, and its overtaxed power system has plummeted the capital of Beirut into darkness for hours at a time. According to the International Monetary Fund, the economy of Lebonan is expected to contract by 12 per cent this year.

Lebanon’s cabinet has announced a two-week state of emergency in the capital and handed control of security in the city to the military.

The explosion comes at a time of escalating tension between Hezbollah and Israel, causing more instability in the nation.

“This is a real catastrophe. What we’ve seen is cataclysmic,” said Sami Nader, Director of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs report Aljazeera.

Lebanese response to the explosion and current economic and political crisis:

Many blame the ruling elite who have dominated politics for years and amassed their wealth while failing to carry out the extensive reforms necessary to solve the country’s problems. In 2019 massive protests erupted in Lebanon denouncing the Government for corruption and mismanagement.

In April of this year, the protestors took to the street again amid the coronavirus as the financial crisis heaped economic pressure on ordinary Lebanese people. People have to deal with daily power cuts, a lack of safe drinking water and limited public healthcare.

The Lebanon government is now under intense tension as the political, economic and explosion leave them with criticism from all sides.

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Escalation Of COVID-19 Cases Across The Globe

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COVID Case Spike 2021 | News Aur Chai

The United States, India, and Brazil have the most confirmed cases, followed by France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Turkey. There are very few locations that have remained undisturbed.

Since the middle of last year, confirmed cases have been increasing. Although the actual scope of the first outbreaks in 2020 is unknown because testing was not generally available at the time. The 100 million COVID-19 cases were discovered at the end of January, over a year after it was first diagnosed. As of 6:30 p.m. CEST on July 30, 2021, WHO has received reports of 196,553,009 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 4,200,412 fatalities. A total of 3,839,816,037 vaccination doses has been delivered as of July 28, 2021.

After reaching a record high of over 0.9 million cases on April 28, 2021, new daily instances of the coronavirus continued to decline, reaching a low point on June 21, when over 0.3 million cases were reported. Since then yet, there has been a global increase in cases. On July 15, 0.53 million daily cases were reported, and over three million new cases were reported in the second week of the month. As of July 15, 188.9 million patients have been recorded worldwide. The transmissive Delta form accounting for most infections in 111 countries. Most instances were recorded in Brazil, India, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and Colombia in the last week. With the steepest increases in Zimbabwe (72%), Indonesia (44%), the United States (38%), Bangladesh (35%), and the United Kingdom (30%). Many Asian nations, including Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan, have reported many daily cases. However, the spread was under control.

The number of new cases in Indonesia has been on the rise, with each day seeing a significant increase over the previous day. Indonesia is now the new Asian epicentre, with 56,757 cases recorded on July 15; India reported 39,000 patients on the same day. COVID-19 fatalities are high, according to WHO. After decreasing for nine weeks, with the highest increases in Africa and Southeast Asia. COVID-19 fatalities worldwide surpassed four million on July 7. The last million deaths occurred in under 90 days, the lowest time interval for every one million deaths ever recorded.

High vaccination coverage has been shown in the United States and much of Europe to lower fatalities and even hospitalizations. For example, United Kingdom rises in incidence. There has been fewer hospitalizations and deaths over 87% of the adult population, as they are vaccinated with one dose and over 67% with two doses. In the United States, the increase in cases is concentrated in states with low vaccination coverage, with unvaccinated people accounting for most deaths. Over 55% of Americans have received one dosage, and 48% are completely immunized. It shifts the focus back to improving vaccination coverage and achieving global vaccine equality to avoid fatalities and the spread of dangerous strains. Some nations debate a booster dosage. Even though many African countries’ healthcare professionals have not been completely vaccinated, booster injections have begun to be given to patients with weakened immune systems in Israel.

In comparison, booster shots have been ruled out in the United States for the time being. With vaccine shortages reported in many Indian states. Even among the vaccinated, rigorous adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour is the only option to postpone and mitigate the consequences of a third wave.

This spring, India and Latin America have seen a significant drop in new cases in the hardest-hit areas of the world. But the global numbers continue to grow. The Delta variety leads them to well-vaccinated regions such as Western Europe and the United States, low but rising infections. This spring, India and Latin America have seen a significant drop in new cases in the hardest-hit areas of the world. Vaccine doses have been given to over 4 billion individuals globally (52 for every 100 people), yet the discrepancy is striking. More than 80% of the population had at least one shot in some wealthy nations. In contrast, the proportion is as low as 1% in many of the poorest.

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Why Taliban Could Not Control Panjshir Valley In Afghanistan Yet?

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Taliban Panjshir | News Aur Chai

Taliban took over Afghanistan last week, and Panjshir valley in the north is the last hope for the people of Afghanistan to fight against the Taliban.

As it was 25 years ago, there is still a part of Afghanistan that tries to oppose the Taliban; it is the Panjshir valley. The villages that rebelled against the Soviets and Taliban’s, it is now that they’re fighting against the spread of the Islamic Emirate.

Valley Of the Five Lions, also known as Panjshir Valley, is in Northern Afghanistan, 150 kilometers north of Kabul, near the Hindu Kush Mountain Range. Due to its location in the Hindu Kush Mountain range, the Panjshir Valley is only accessible through the narrow Panjshir River; this makes it easy for forces defending. Panjshir is also famously known for emeralds. It has been the base of operations for the Taliban since the 1990s. Since it was never under their control, the area has become a key target for the US-led forces.

Around 150,000 people live in the valley, and the majority are Pashtuns. The valley’s ethnic majority is Tajik. The area’s history has made it the base of operations for the Taliban. Panjshir has never been captured by the Taliban during their earlier rule, nor by the soviets. The resistance, therefore, chose to base its operations in the area due to its history.

After the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989, a civil war broke out in the country. Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was the most notable anti-Taliban fighter, led a group of militants to fight against the separatists. He was eventually killed by al-Qaeda terrorists in 2001, just two days before the 9/11 attacks.

Following the father’s footsteps, Ahmad Massoud, the son of legendary Ahmad Shah Massoud, declared the start of armed resistance against the Taliban forming in the Panjshir. The Northern Alliance flag has been raised in Panjshir province, confirming the legitimacy of this movement, officially back since 2001. The National Resistance Front (NRF), based out of the Panjshir Valley, led by Ahmad Massoud and the former Vice-President Amrullah Saleh, leading an anti-Taliban Movement.

The Panjshir Valley stands tall against the Taliban under the leadership of Ahmad Masood. Resistance movements have begun with the formation of the Northern Alliance. Bernard Henri Levy, the French philosopher, spoke to Ahmad Massoud on a phone call and quoted saying, “I am the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, and surrender is not part of my vocabulary.” The Resistance has just begun; this is just the beginning.

The Washington Post published an op-ed on Wednesday in which Massoud reiterated his plea for help, asking the United States to supply his military with arms and ammunition. “The United States can still be a great arsenal of democracy” by supporting his fighters, he wrote.

Since President Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan, Saleh has declared himself as the interim president. The Taliban has been massing its forces near Panjshir. The Salang highway has been closed. He further tweeted that the militants are avoiding any confrontations with the enemy forces.

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India Takes Rein Of UNSC For August

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UNSC August II News Aur Chai

As per procedure, India received the Presidency of the UN Security Council for August this year. The three major points that the Indian Presidency aims to focus on are maritime security, peacekeeping, and counter-terrorism policies.

What is the UN Security Council?

The security council is a body of the United Nations responsible for international security and peacekeeping. The body settles disputes and identifies unwanted threats and aggressions against member States.

There are 15 Members as a part of the council. They are obligated to abide by the decisions made by the Security Council. Out of these, there are five permanent and ten non-permanent members, India being a part of the newly elected non-permanent contingent.

India is currently serving as President of the UNSC for August and is expected to do so again in 2022. They succeed France who previously presided in July this year. The order of Presidency succession is decided alphabetically. Each member gets a fair chance to preside over the peacekeeping body.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the first Indian PM to chair a meeting of the UNSC.

India in UNSC

India has joined the UNSC for the eighth time as a non-permanent member, serving a term of two years. The last time India was on the council as a member was in the year 2011-12, during the Middle East Crisis.

In the August meetings this year, the primary concern is said to be that of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the economy and mortality. India also aims to bid for a permanent seat on the UNSC and hence a high level of involvement is expected.

India plays an important role in the UNSC as it along with other members of the G-4 (Brazil, Japan, and Germany) are insisting on an expansion in permanent membership for countries. They want the permanent seats to be offered to countries other than the current five that hold the veto power, giving India a chance to display its potential at a global level.

India has previously chaired the counter-terrorism committee at the UNSC and introduced the concept of ‘zero tolerance’ for terrorism globally. They also successfully establish the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF).

This time around, India aims at improving maritime security and peacekeeping while returning to the counter-terrorism policies establish worldwide.

India’s efforts as President in August 2021

India is expected to organise three high-level meetings for the three topics that they have decided to focus on (maritime security, peacekeeping, and counterterrorism). A traditional breakfast of PRs was held by India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, T S Tirumurti. Along with the normal breakfast, Tirumurti put a display of Indian grains with items exquisitely prepared with those ingredients. A treat of Alphonso mangoes was also included in the breakfast. Tirumurti also presided over all meetings of the UNSC on day one.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a meeting of the UN Council virtually, while external affairs minister, Jaishankar will chair the meetings in person.

S Jaishankar expressed opinions on the opportunity to preside over the UNSC for August via his Tweet, saying that India looks forward to taking over the Presidency of the Global Organisation for the month.

Indian PR Tirumurti also thanked their predecessor France and announced the takeover via his Tweets while expressing his elation on the occasion.

India began their eighth term on January 1 this year. This non-permanent arrangement will span for two years, giving the possibility of another Presidency in late 2022. India has been grateful for its turn in chairing the UNSC and hopes to make decisions and resolutions that will be beneficial to the Indian Foreign Policy and countries around the Globe.

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