On August 4, large explosions in the Port of Beirut resulted in the extensive destruction of homes, businesses, hospitals, and other critical infrastructure. The result was more than 200 confirmed deaths with many more missing, over 5,000 injured, and approximately 300,000 internally displaced. In addition to major impact on Beirut’s health and economic sectors, a significant proportion of Lebanon's grain supply was destroyed as well.
Our thoughts go out to the entire community of Greater Beirut as well as our Lebanese friends and colleagues who have been impacted by this disaster. Although the recovery process will be long and difficult, we believe that the determination, ingenuity and pride of the Lebanese people will help rebuild Beirut stronger than ever.
For those wishing to contribute to the relief and rebuilding effort, please consider donating through established philanthropic structures, including the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (https://disasterphilanthropy.org/disaster/beirut-explosion/); the Lebanese Red Cross (https://supportlrc.app/donate/donate_guest.html); and Malteser International (https://www.malteser-international.org/en/our-work/middle-east/lebanon.html), among many other available support channels.
There are many lessons that the international health security community needs to learn and urgently act upon as a result of the Beirut tragedy. Dangerous chemicals are all-too-often concentrated in relatively small spaces, near highly populated areas, with limited oversight, leading to unacceptable risks to local populations. Given previous similar incidents, including those in Tianjin, China (2015); West, Texas (2013); and Toulouse, France (2001) the time has come for a comprehensive, worldwide review of policies and procedures related to storage of chemicals with high explosive potential near densely populated areas. We must learn from these experiences to prevent any future similar catastrophes.