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Beirut port blast crater 141 feet deep. Blast 1,000 times stronger than Oklahoma City bombing

PortandTerminal.com, August 9, 2020

BEIRUT – The grim physics of the horrific blast that destroyed Beirut’s port last week are emerging including the size of the crater it created and the explosive force of the blast.

Following the explosion is was immediately obvious that the blast had created a massive crater at the port where none had existed before.

Aerial view of Before and After the blast at the port in Beirut
Before and After the blast at the port in Beirut

It was soon determined that the diameter of the crater is about 460 feet (140 meters). What wasn’t immediately known was the crater’s depth.

Blast crater. Debris.

Today, security officials are revealing that the depth of the crater is a jaw-dropping 141 feet deep (43 meters). For perspective, the deepest natural harbor in the world, Sydney Harbour in Australia, at its deepest points measure 148 feet (45 meters).

Force of the explosion

Wired Magazine has published an excellent report by Rachel Lance this weekend analyzing the explosive force of the Beirut explosion. Lance is a biomedical engineer with a doctorate in the patterns of injury and trauma who knows what she is talking about when it comes to this type of thing.

Based upon her analysis, we can now get an idea of the explosive force of the blast that destroyed Beirut’s port.

The crater left by the Beirut explosion suggests a charge equivalent to 1.7 to 5.4 million kilograms of TNT (that’s 3.8 to 11.8 million pounds). For reference, the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 used the equivalent of 1.8 thousand kilograms of TNT. So, Beirut was at minimum thousand times more boom than Oklahoma City.

Bombed building. Fire truck. Debris.
In 1995 Timothy McVeigh detonated a fertilizer bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people. The explosion in Beirut last week is estimated to be 1,000 times more before than the Oklahoma City bombing.

And finally, putting the explosion into the context of earthquakes – the blast was felt across the county and as far as the island of Cyprus, 145 miles away. It was recorded by the sensors of the American Institute of Geophysics (USGS) as having the power of a magnitude 3.3 earthquake.

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