The New Scientist site has an article, that’s not behind a paywall, about the Beirut explosion. Despite what Trump initially said, it wasn’t a deliberate attack, nor was it an attack by Israel, nor was it an atomic bomb or any other rumors. It was most likely caused when a fire ignited 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate. It had apparently been sitting in a port warehouse since 2013. The ammonium nitrate wasn’t properly stored, and port authorities had been trying to get rid of it for years.
I will admit that when I finally saw the videos, I wondered if it was a dirty bomb. But, as with most disasters, first impressions can be wrong, and rumors spread around the world before any investigation starts. As Matthew Gault at Vice points out, there are people who are still insisting it was an atomic bomb because it formed a mushroom cloud. But nuclear explosions aren’t the only things that can create mushroom clouds. As long as there’s an apparent anomaly, someone will use it to question the “official story.” Sure governments lie, and there are powerful people in the world, but sometimes an industrial accident is just an industrial accident.
USA Today offers this article on how to help the victims of the explosion. Also according to the article, 5000 people were injured, and over 200,000 people may be homeless.