While the investigation into the deadly explosion in Beirut continues, senior officials in the Lebanese authorities point to a possible cause of the violent explosion that terrified the capital yesterday.
This is a massive shipment of agricultural fertilizer that authorities say has been stored in the port of Beirut without safety measures for years, despite warnings from local sources that it could cause a disaster.
CNN has obtained documents revealing that in 2013 a shipment of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate arrived on a Russian-owned vessel in the port of Beirut.
The ship, named the MV Rhosus, was originally intended to reach Mozambique but was stopped in Beirut due to economic difficulties, which created unrest among the ship’s crew members who were Russian and Ukrainian citizens.
According to Lebanese Port Customs Director Badri Daher, “Once the ship arrived, it never left the port of Beirut despite repeated warnings from me and others that the cargo on it was equivalent to a ‘floating bomb’.”
Daher’s predecessor, Spik Marhi, also wrote a letter to a Beirut court judge involved in 2016, warning, “Because of the extreme danger posed by items stored in unsuitable climatic conditions, we reiterate our request to the port authorities to re-export the goods immediately to save On the safety of the port and its workers. ”
Authorities in Lebanon did not officially name the Russian ship MV Rhosus as the source of the material that eventually exploded in Beirut on Tuesday, but Prime Minister Hassan Diab said “the devastating explosion was caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate.” He added that “the material was stored for six years in the port warehouse without safety measures, which endangered the safety of the citizens.”
Lebanon’s chief of security also said “highly explosive material” had been confiscated years earlier and kept in a warehouse at the port, but did not elaborate. On Wednesday, Lebanese Information Minister Manel ‘Abd al-Samad Najad said there were documents and documents from 2014 proving the existence of an exchange of information on “material confiscated by Lebanese authorities.”
She told a Jordanian media channel that the documents were currently being examined in the context of a potential deadly explosion in Beirut.