How much worse can things get for Lebanon?

How much worse can things get for Lebanon? By Paul Wood. A massive fertilizer bomb went off due to negligence in storing confiscated fertilizer in the middle of Beirut!  Stunning:

So this was a huge explosion, two separate blasts, in fact, the larger one apparently heard as far away as Cyprus. Someone on Twitter said — absurdly — that the Israelis had nuked Beirut, pointing to a mushroom cloud from the second blast.

The Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, had another explanation. He said on his Twitter feed that for the past six years, a warehouse at the port had been used to store 2,750 tonnes of ‘confiscated’ ammonium nitrate, a precursor for making explosives. This, said the president, was an unacceptable situation. As a measure of the explosive power that much ammonium nitrate represents, less than one thousandth of this, some two tonnes, was used in the Oklahoma bombing in 1995 that killed 168 people.

Who decided to leave this huge amount of bomb making material near the centre of Beirut? Several Lebanese friends and contacts messaged to say that this could only be Hezbollah, the Shiite militia and shadow state in Lebanon. …

Someone I know with access to the Hezbollah leadership spoke of an Israeli drone strike on a Hezbollah weapons dump. Perhaps that will be Hezbollah’s new line to take. …

Israel has denied having anything to do what happened and has offered to send aid. Lebanon and Israel remain in a formal state of war — there’s no chance whatsoever that Israel’s aid would be accepted. …

Car bombs and truck bombs have traditionally been used to solve political disputes in Lebanon. One such bomb killed the Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in 2005. It was allegedly planted by four members of Hezbollah acting on Syrian orders. …

If Hezbollah are in any way to blame for this, it will be very bad for Lebanon — even if the explosion was an accident. The devastation is widespread. Save the Children says its teams on the ground report that entire streets have been ‘wiped out’. Many children are unaccounted for as rescue teams work through destroyed buildings and dig through rubble. The official number of dead stands at a few dozen but I’ve heard unofficial estimates of 200 killed and 4,000 injured. Hospitals were already under strain from a surge in coronavirus and are struggling to cope. …

Coronavirus was the last blow to an economy that was already near collapse. The Lebanese currency has lost four-fifths of its value since the pandemic started…panicked crowds gather outside banks, people unable to withdraw their savings; hospitals don’t have dollars to buy medicines, the power goes out for hours at a time; there’s no fuel to run generators; only yesterday the Lebanese foreign minister resigned, saying the country was becoming ‘a failed state’; some Lebanese are going hungry, their incomes outpaced by hyperinflation.

Stephen Drill:

Maintenance workers who were welding at the port sparked a small fire, according to local media reports, that then exploded in scenes compared with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombs.

One of many of the problems of a country well on the way to transitioning from Christian to Muslim control.