Exclusive: Six blasts, each 11 seconds apart, preceded colossal Beirut explosion

Amazing findings change the story of the Beirut blast

Exclusive: Six blasts, each 11 seconds apart, preceded colossal Beirut explosion

The seismogram showing the large blast in Beirut and the small blasts that preceded it. 

An Israel Defense exclusive: The tremendous explosion in Beirut was preceded by six smaller explosions that took place with equal time intervals. Unequivocal seismological statistics indicate the unusual events can be explained as acts of sabotage or as a malfunction of weapons that were being stored nearby. 

The amazing findings, which are being revealed here for the first time, were discovered and analyzed by geophysics experts in cooperation with Israel's Tamar engineering group, and also brought to the attention of the high echelons of the country's political and defense leadership.

The Tamar group, which was established by Boaz Hayoun, a former officer in the IDF's Engineering Corps, has for decades dealt with the field of demolition and controlled explosions in Israel, and also helps airports around the world identify explosive materials. Among other things, the group carries out special projects using explosives, including explosions in buildings and complex experiments. The group includes the Israeli Explosives Safety Center and the National Fireworks Laboratory that is responsible on behalf of the Standards Institution of Israel for the licensing of all fireworks, which mainly come from China.      

The dramatic turning point in understanding the disaster in Beirut started from the seismological investigation that collected seismic statistics from sensors across the Middle East. It became clear that the seismological institutes in Israel, located far from the epicenter of the blast, clearly detected the tremors caused by the huge ammonium nitrate explosion in Beirut that were equivalent to a small earthquake. However, they could not have made the find that was only discovered using CY603, a seismographic network of six sensors located in the sea between Cyprus and Lebanon about 70km from Beirut at a depth of 2.2 kilometers.  

It is a network that was installed in the framework of IRIS, an international geological project for the research and prediction of earthquakes, as well as the detection of weapons testing, in the Mediterranean basin. The statistics of the sensors are available to the public on the internet, but in a non-routine manner they were blocked on August 5, less than 24 hours after the disaster that occurred in Beirut on August 4 a little after 6:00 in the evening. The geophysics experts obtained these statistics and found that the seismograph statistics revealed here (in the picture) are identical to the statistics of other sensitive sensors in the region regarding the main blasts in Beirut. And still it seems that no other entity noticed what was discovered in the overall investigation of the event: the large explosion of the ammonium nitrate was preceded by the six mysterious explosions whose exposure now completely changes the picture.  

Each of those explosions was equivalent to that of several tons of explosives (it is difficult to determine the exact amounts at this stage of the investigation), and the amount of time between them was the same – 11 seconds. As seen in the seismogram, we can clearly identify five identical explosions 11 seconds apart, while the sixth blast, 11 seconds later, was several times bigger. And then, after 43 more seconds, came the massive explosion that was picked up by all the seismographs across the Middle East and devastated large parts of Beirut.      

This analysis raises major questions regarding the accepted assumption that was published in the media that the explosion originated from a fire on the ground at the port that ignited fireworks and then the sacks of ammonium nitrate. It also is in line with foreign media reports (which were denied unconvincingly by official sources in Lebanon) that under the "regular" warehouses at the port where the fireworks and ammonium nitrate were stored was an underground city operated by Hezbollah, the real "owner" of the main Lebanese port, apparently with warehouses and tunnels, whose remnants were shown clearly in reports.

During the last few days, experts from Tamar combined the seismological findings with additional analyses that were carried out, based mainly on the reports in the media. According to Aharon (Arik) Goren, head of the Israeli Explosives Safety Center, who was the leading professional authority on explosives safety in the IDF, "all of the media reports coming from Lebanon should be regarded with suspicion, but if there were really 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate at the port, as it was declared, it would have been equivalent to the power of about 850 tons of TNT. It is important to remember that ammonium nitrate could be a basis for both an explosive called "Anfo" and for fertilizer materials for agriculture and industry, and the power of the explosion of the ammonium, compared to TNT, depends on the conditions of storage." 

Goren also explained that "in poor conditions, the material could be equivalent to the explosive power of more than 850 tons, but that still isn't enough to explain the 43-meter-deep crater that was created at the epicenter of the explosion according to the report from Lebanon. According to the accepted formulas, the crater should have been identical in width to the one reported, about 110 meters, but less deep. The unusual depth could be explained by underground explosions that preceded the explosion of the ammonium, but also by an amount of ammonium that was much bigger than what was reported by the Lebanese government – or by the explosion of weapons that weren't reported." As far as the colors of the smoke from the blast, brown and orange, Goren said they match what is expected from an explosion of ammonium nitrate.      

The geophysical investigation ruled out the possibility that the especially sensitive seismological sensors in the sea between Cyprus and Lebanon recorded different tremors caused by the same explosion. According to the researchers, the large explosion was indeed preceded by six smaller explosions, and there is no doubt about it. Checks that were carried out also tried to discover whether there were controlled explosions for drilling or stonecutting in the area of the port before the disaster, which could also explain the findings, but at this stage there is no evidence of it.      

So what really happened at the port? Arik Goren, who on behalf of Israel's Environment Ministry investigated an explosion in 2017 at a fireworks warehouse at a Moshav in central Israel in which two workers were killed, says that fireworks are sensitive to heat phenomena. According to him, it is possible that underground explosions generated heat that ignited the fireworks next to the sacks of ammonium, and only then, as a result of a fire, occurred the massive explosion that caused an earthquake of 3.3 on the Richter scale. 

This possible explanation does not answer the question of what caused the first series of explosions, but, according to Goren, there are weapons systems that are activated in a chain, and also the possibility that a chain of bombs was placed under the warehouses by an entity that wanted to cause the massive explosion, and synchronized the series of explosions using a timer. 

Was it sabotage or a malfunction of weapons of Hezbollah under the port? It should be noted that the president of the United States said in his first response to the report of the disaster in Beirut that the incident was an "attack". Since the findings could also raise the possibility that the ammonium explosion was caused by bombs placed by entities from Israel, Israel Defense conducted a check that concluded without a doubt that Israel was not connected in any way to the chain of events in the disaster. The most senior Israeli officials heard about the disaster from the press, like everyone else.     

The founder of the Tamar group, Boaz Hayoun, told Israel Defense that "We still don't know what exactly caused the initial explosions, whether sabotage or a malfunction. Hezbollah has to provide the answer to that question."   

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