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Cause of the Lebanon Explosion: Conspiracy Theories and Official Announcements

Margaret Tionquiao

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  • A fire, followed by a devastating explosion, shook Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon.
  • The blast left behind massive damage in property and multiple deaths, in addition to numerous rumors and dangerous assumptions regarding its cause.
  • Conspiracy theories quickly came up but experts are quick to slam the idea of a nuke attack.
  • However, US President Donald Trump, along with his unnamed generals, a few fringe websites, and some netizens, believed it was a deliberate attack.
  • The Lebanese government has announced that the explosion may have had something to do with ammonium nitrate.

The blast that shook Beirut, Lebanon, left in its wake a huge fire, shock waves that caused massive destruction, at least 78 confirmed deaths and over 4000 wounded people, and government officials still expect the death toll to rise as emergency workers continue to dig through the rubble for their search-and-rescue operation.

The Beirut quarter redefines “total destruction” after it was struck with force similar to that of a 3.5 magnitude earthquake complicated by a major fire near the city’s port.

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The cause of the explosion has yet to be officially determined but it was initially believed to be an effect of the fire.

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In a report, a freelance reporter was told by the Lebanese military on the ground that “it’s possible fireworks stored in the area caught fire and reached a nearby nitrate warehouse.”

This announcement did not deter U.S. President Donald Trump from calling it a “terrible attack.” He said in a White House press conference, “I’ve met with some of our great generals and they just feel it was a bomb of some kind.”

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Rumors had it pegged for an attack as well. Some people believed it was an Israeli attack. A netizen shared an alleged post from the Israeli Prime Minister tweeted about hinting at an attack by Hezbollah. The claim was without sources or confirmation, and the fringe site that published it says, “Our evaluation is guesswork and we are waiting for word from our nuclear expert, Jeff Smith of the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab later announced that there was an estimated 2,750 tons of confiscated ammonium nitrate stored at a warehouse near the port for the past six years.

This announcement did nothing to stop people from assuming that the explosion in Lebanon is an attack. It didn’t help that ammonium nitrate is historically known to be used as an ingredient in explosives – mostly in the low-cost fertilizer bombs that terrorist groups favored.

Meanwhile, the government starting with Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud tagged it as a “national catastrophe,” while Prime Minister Diab declared a day of mourning. He also promised that he will not rest until justice has been served.

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“I will not rest until we hold whoever is responsible accountable and punish them with the most severe punishment,” he promised.

As of writing time, experts have slammed the idea of a nuclear attack in the Lebanon explosion.

Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies conclusively announced in a Twitter post that it was not a nuke.

People are seizing on the mushroom clouds to pull up the idea of a nuclear attack and conspiracy theories. On the other hand, experts, like Alex Wellerstein, a nuclear historian at the Stevens Institute, disagree.

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