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Satellite images reveal the devastation of the Beirut Explosion



Photo credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Earth Observatory of Singapore / ESA
Photo credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Earth Observatory of Singapore / ESA

From popular mechanics

  • Last week̵

    7;s explosion in Beirut claimed more than 200 lives, injuring thousands and causing billions of dollars in damage.

  • NASA scientists – in collaboration with colleagues from the Earth Observatory in Singapore – mapped the extent of the damage.

  • The damage proxy maps can be used to focus support efforts on the most damaged regions.

Last week, Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, rocked an explosion. More than 200 people died and thousands were injured in the blast, which occurred after 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were detonated. The port city suffered billions of dollars in damage after the explosion and according to UNICEF, hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless.

The blast has led to a series of protests and the departure of a number of the country’s leaders, including its prime minister. Now the people of Beirut – who are already fighting to control the coronavirus pandemic – are leaving to pick up the pieces. Satellite images of the region, such as the video from MAXAR below, are beginning to reveal the real devastation of the explosion.

NASA’s Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team – together with the Earth Observatory in Singapore – compiled satellite-derived synthetic aperture radar data to map the damage.

Each pixel in the image represents an area of ​​approximately 33 meters, with dark red pixels indicating where the damage was most severe and yellow pixels indicating where the least amount of damage occurred.

Photo credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Earth Observatory of Singapore / ESA
Photo credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Earth Observatory of Singapore / ESA

The ARIA team has designed maps like this for other disasters. In the wake of the Palu 2018 earthquake, for example, NASA published a similar damage profile map, which planned the risk of landslides around the Indonesian city.

Researchers hope that maps like these can help workers assess where to focus their efforts.

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