2,700 tonnes of ammonium-nitrate left in a warehouse appear to be source of explosion in Beirut


Investigations into the cause of the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon on August 4th are ongoing (AP News). ~

The current source is assumed to be 2,700 tonnes of ammonium-nitrate in a warehouse, left there since 2014 (BBC). All of the port officials “who have handled the affairs of storing [the] ammonium nitrate, guarding it and handling its paperwork” since June 2014 will be placed under house arrest during the investigations (BBC). Many people are blaming negligence on behalf of a corrupt government (BBC). ~

The ammonium-nitrate originally came from a Moldovan-flagged ship, the MV Rhosus, sailing from Batumi, Georgia, towards Mozambique, when it made a detour to Beirut in 2013 to pick up additional cargo (CNN). The MV Rhosus was detained in Beirut by local port authorities because of “gross violations in operating a vessel,” unpaid fees, and complaints filed by the Russian and Ukranian crew (CNN). The ship was abandoned by its owners, and its cargo was stored in a port warehouse (BBC). Letters had been sent in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 from the head of the customs department, Badri Daher, repeatedly warning that the cargo was a danger to the port, and asking judicial officials for a ruling on a way to remove it (AP News). Daher never received a response (CNN). ~

The explosion killed more than 135 people, injured at least 5000, and left 300,000 homeless; dozens of people are still missing as rescue crews continue to search for survivors (BBC). Lebanon has also lost a significant food source, with an estimated 80% of the country’s grain contaminated by the destruction of storage silos near the port (BBC). Economic losses are estimated at $10 to $15 billion (AP News). Aid has come in from several countries, with Greece, Kuwait, Qatar, and Turkey sending medical equipment, Turkey and France providing humanitarian aid, and the EU soon to send firefighters to help find survivors (AP News). ~


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