Nearly 3, tonnes of ammonium nitrate - taken from a ship off the coast of Beirut six years ago and then stored in a warehouse - has been blamed for the explosion that ripped through the port area of the Lebanese capital on Tuesday. Ammonium nitrate is a crystal-like white solid which is made in large industrial quantities. Its biggest use is as a source of nitrogen for fertiliser, but it is also used to create explosives for mining. That's because it's synthetic, made by reacting ammonia with nitric acid, he says. But storing it can be a problem, and it has been associated with serious industrial accidents in the past. This makes it more dangerous because if a fire reaches it, the chemical reaction will be much more intense.
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As of [update] , Greater Beirut has a population of 2. The city is situated on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coast. Beirut has been inhabited for more than 5, years, making it one of the oldest cities in the world. The first historical mention of Beirut is found in the Amarna letters from the New Kingdom of Egypt , which date to the 15th century BC. Beirut is Lebanon's seat of government and plays a central role in the Lebanese economy , with many banks and corporations based in the city.