On the afternoon of 4th August 2020, the city of Beirut was shook apart by an explosion equivalent of 1,155 tonnes of TNT. 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, the main constituent of IED’s and other traditional explosives had been sitting at a warehouse in the port for the past 6 years. Over 200 people died from the explosion while more than 6,500 individuals were injured with an estimated loss of more than $15 billion. In the blink of an eye, Lebanon had to endure a loss equivalent to 26% of their GDP due to one fatal mistake, housing industrial chemicals within residential zones.
On the 20th of September 2019, a massive fire broke out at a chemical storage warehouse in the heart of Male’ city which tore apart the lives of more than 38 families, forcing 443 people homeless within the span of a few hours. More than 8 buildings were deemed unsafe for living and was demolished in the aftermath of the fire.
As a densely populated city, the level of comfort with which an average denizen of Male’ city lives their daily lives amongst various industrial chemical storage warehouses is concerning. Not only has past fires increased in intensity, but the damage and casualty has also increased with the ever increasing population density of Male’ city. The Beirut explosion should be taken as a warning for the whole of Male’ city, to draw a line between residential neighborhoods and industrial areas.
Government institutions and agencies should take the initiative in categorizing and cataloguing the various industrial businesses being run within Male’ city along with storage warehouses. Even the most unassuming of domestic goods such as butter can cause the deadliest of fires. Authorities should take heed from the cries of the victims of the Beirut explosion and provide a solution in drawing the boundary lines between residential and industrial areas within Male’ city.