Beirut explosion reportedly equal to 1,100 tons of TNT

The huge blast that leveled much of Beirut’s port district Tuesday had the impact of 1,100 tons of TNT and the seismic force of a 3.3-magnitude earthquake, according to reports.

The explosion in Lebanon’s capital, which killed more than 135 people and injured thousands, was felt as far away as Cyprus nearly 180 miles away with the seismic impact of a relatively minor earthquake, according to the US Geological Survey.

GFZ, Germany’s geoscience’s center, put the impact closer to 3.5 on the Richter scale — but even that doesn’t grasp the full impact of the blast.

“Standard methods were used to calculate magnitude,” the agency said. “The reported magnitude is not directly comparable to an earthquake of similar size because the explosion occurred at the surface where seismic waves are not as efficiently generated.”

“News reports state the explosion was caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, which is roughly equivalent to 1,100 tons of TNT.”

To put it in context, Timothy McVeigh used just two tons of the chemical to bring down the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people, according to the BBC.


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