One month on, 10 facts about the Beirut port blast

by Ban Barkawi | @banbarkawi | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 3 September 2020 23:00 GMT

A rescue team searches through rubble of damaged buildings due to the massive explosion at Beirut's port area, in Beirut, Lebanon September 3, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

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After a massive explosion tore through Lebanon’s capital, emigration and poverty are on the rise

By Ban Barkawi

AMMAN, Sept 4 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - One month after a massive port explosion tore through the heart of Lebanon's capital, Beirut, emigration and poverty are on the rise in a country that was already grappling with financial crisis, political instability and the new coronavirus.

Here are some facts about the impact of the blast, caused by 2,750 tonnes of improperly stored explosive material:

1. The explosion caused up to $4.6 billion in damage to homes and infrastructure with up to $3.5 billion in other losses, such as the knock to economic output.

2. The economic crisis, COVID-19 and the explosion have driven poverty rates up to 55% from 28% in 2019.

3. The blast killed 190 people, injured 6,500 and left 300,000 homeless as 50,000 houses were damaged.

4. Hunger is expected to worsen with more than 50% of the population at risk of failing to access basic foods by the end of 2020.

5. The main entry point for food imports, Beirut port's capacity to handle bulk cereal imports has collapsed to about a fifth of its level before the blast.

6. Between $35 and $40 million is needed in the next three months for an immediate large-scale cash transfer to meet the basic needs of 90,000 affected individuals, and to create short-term jobs for 15,000 people.

7. Some Lebanese have begun leaving the country, with one research firm reporting a 36% increase in daily passenger departures, while Google searches for the word "immigration" from Lebanon hit a 10-year peak.

8. About 25,000 workers from Lebanon's large migrant community - mostly from Ethiopia, Bangladesh and the Philippines - were directly affected by the blast, with 150 injured and 15 dead.

9. Hospitals, healthcare centers and maternity wards suffered heavy damage and some 4,000 pregnant women in need of antenatal care were displaced.

10. Some 640 historic buildings of cultural significance were damaged by the explosion, 60 of which are at risk of collapse. Sources: Thomson Reuters Foundation, Reuters, United Nations, World Bank, Information International research consultancy.

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(Reporting by Ban Barkawi @banbarkawi; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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