Comparison with nuclear charges - how powerful was the explosion in Beirut


The blast that shook Lebanese capital Beirut on August 4 has caused a lot of resonance in the Middle East and beyond, with confirmed injuries and deaths on the rise. To assess the relative power of the explosion, the Military Watch experts compared it with nuclear charges of various strengths.


The incident comes amid growing tensions between the Lebanese militant Hezbollah and its opponents in Israel and the West, leading to widespread speculation of foreign intervention. The Lebanese government has launched an investigation, and the main version of the explosion is currently the detonation of about 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate, previously confiscated and stored without security measures over the past six years.

The explosion can be compared to an earthquake of 3,3 points, and its power in TNT equivalent ranges from several hundred to three thousand tons. The detonation force of ammonium nitrate is about 40% of an explosion of the same volume of TNT, and the explosion could have a yield of about 400 tons, or 0,4 kilotons (kt). Here is how it compares to other large charges, including nuclear ones:

11 tons - the heaviest American high-explosive bomb, MOAB;

10-20 tons - Mk-54 warhead of the American over-caliber nuclear warhead Davy Crockett;

44 tons - Russian heavy vacuum bomb of increased power AVBPM;

190 tons - small tactical nuclear "suitcase bomb";

250 tons - nuclear warhead of the American AIM-26 Falcon air-to-air missile;

300 tons - minimum power B61 nuclear bomb;

400 tons - explosion in Beirut;

500 tons - nuclear warhead of Pakistani tactical missile "Nasr";

600 tons - nuclear warhead W72 of the American planning guided bombs AGM-62;

15000 tons - British tactical nuclear bomb British Red Beard Mk.1;

21000 tons - American "Fat Man" nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki;

22000 tons - the power of the first nuclear explosion in China, implemented as part of the 596 project;

400000 tons - American B61 hydrogen bomb;

50 tons - the heaviest tested nuclear bomb in the world "Tsar Bomba" RDS-000.
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  1. Sergey Latyshev Offline
    Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 7 August 2020 14: 10
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    And they wrote yesterday, Oh, 7 TNT, about 2 thousand equivalent. Obviously a mismatch.
    1. Arkharov Offline
      Arkharov (Grigory Arkharov) 7 August 2020 16: 35
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      Well, up to 3000 from the article, with all the desire, it cannot be there. If only Hezbollah helped with its stored or produced property?
  2. Alexzn Offline
    Alexzn (Alexander) 7 August 2020 14: 18
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    Well, finally, an adjustment towards realities. There, and the destruction is much more modest than previously announced.
  3. Michael1950 Offline
    Michael1950 (Michael) 7 August 2020 15: 33
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    In fact, the TNT equivalent comes out there in the region of one kiloton ...