August 2020

Dr Denny says “…it’s very sad to see what happened in Beirut this week. With the detonation of 2750T ammonium nitrate (AN) and the explosion estimated at 1-1.5kT TNT equivalence, the Beirut Explosion was easily the largest explosive industrial accident to occur in a populated area in over 70 years (since the 1947 Texas City Disaster). It certainly raises questions as to why such a large amount of AN was stored in such close proximity to a populated area.

As a blast engineer and someone researching blast injury predictive criteria, I've used the assumption of a 1.5kT TNT surface detonation to begin to briefly analyse the extent of structural damage and possible injuries caused by the Beirut blast. Due to the location of the detonation, most of the severe 'primary' blast injuries (caused directly by the shock wave) will have occurred within the port, although ear injury could be expected in surrounding residential areas. Most casualties will have been caused by structural damage, blast winds & glazing failure, causing 'secondary' (high-speed fragmentation) and 'tertiary' blast injuries. Large-scale, blast events such as this are particularly devastating due to the non-trivial dynamic pressures (blast winds) that are capable of causing structural damage (and devastating injuries) over long ranges.”


Jack was interviewed to comment on the Beirut explosions by local media (BBC Radio Solent) which can be found here.