Beirut explosion: NASA astronaut pays tribute from the ISS

On August 4, two large blasts in quick succession almost flattened Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. The explosion, particularly the second, led to the deaths of at least 220 people, injuring more than 7,000 and causing up to $15bn in damages to the city.

Nearly 3,000 tons (2.5 million kilograms) of a chemical called ammonium nitrate was being stored at the port and may have caused the incident.

Videos of the blasts show the sheer power and devastation, leading to tributes from all corners of the globe.

Now, a NASA astronaut in space has also taken a turn to pay homage to the victims of the explosions, by sharing an image of Beirut from the International Space Station (ISS).

Chris Cassidy, who is currently the only NASA astronaut aboard the ISS, sharing the orbiting laboratory with Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, posted an image of Beirut from space before the blast happened.

Mr Cassidy wrote on Twitter: “Thinking of Beirut today. My heart goes out to all of those who have been affected by the recent tragedy. Sending love from @Space_Station.”

Following the blast, protests across Beirut broke out with citizens unhappy with the way Lebanon has been handled by the government, with the explosion seemingly the tipping point for political unrest.

The economic situation has pushed tens of thousands of people into poverty and triggered large anti-Government protests.

As a result, Lebanon’s government took the extraordinary step of resigning but will stay in charge temporarily until a new government can be formed.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab told Lebanon via a public address on Monday evening that corruption in the country was “bigger than the state” itself, and “a very thick and thorny wall separates us from change; a wall fortified by a class that is resorting to all dirty methods in order to resist and preserve its gains.

“They knew that we pose a threat to them, and that the success of this government means a real change in this long-ruling class whose corruption has asphyxiated the country.”

He added: “Today we follow the will of the people in their demand to hold accountable those responsible for the disaster that has been in hiding for seven years, and their desire for real change. May God protect Lebanon.”

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