Video | Reconstructing the Beirut explosion

Over three months after a massive explosion ripped through the port of Beirut, devastating the capital, no one has been held accountable for one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history.

The August 4 blast killed over 200 people, wounded over 6,500 and destroyed large swathes of the city. The scale of the devastation was caused by the detonation of a huge amount of ammonium nitrate that had been stored for years in the port. 

In October 2014, some 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate was unloaded by court order to Warehouse 12 from the Rhosus, a vessel bound for Mozambique that had been impounded in the port by Lebanese authorities. As early as December 2014, multiple port and customs officials began warning of the dangers posed by the highly explosive material nitrate yet their warnings went ignored until it finally detonated on August 4.

An investigation by Lebanese authorities has yet to produce any results and many are skeptical it will hold any top-level officials responsible. Similarly, none of the findings from other probes conducted by France, the US and other countries have been released. Around 1,000 survivors and victims’ family members are now calling for an independent investigation into the blast.

Mada Masr invited Forensic Architecture, a research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London, to examine open-source information, including videos, photographs, and documents to help investigate the explosion. Through spatial and architectural analysis, they have created a 3D model and timeline that provide an elaborate reconstruction of the events of August 4.

The model includes the most detailed layout of the interior of the warehouse to date, as well as an in-depth look at the spread of the fire that led to the deadly blast.

As the search for accountability continues, Forensic Architecture and Mada Masr are making the model, the geolocated videos, and the source material publicly available via this link.

If there are any problems with the embedded video, you can watch the video here.

Forensic Architecture 

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