A Russian ship containing 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate has been moored in the port of Beirut for seven years, and could be one of the sources of the devastating explosion that occurred on Tuesday, CNN reported today (Thursday). The report raises questions and doubts, although Lebanese authorities are investigating whether the source of the blast was a massive shipment of agricultural fertilizer, which they said also contained the hazardous material and was stored in the port without safety measures for years – despite warnings from local sources.
The ship, named MV Rhosus, arrived in Beirut in 2013 and was scheduled to arrive in Mozambique, but was stopped in Beirut due to economic difficulties, which created tensions with the ship’s crew.
According to Lebanese customs director Badri Daher, after arriving, the ship never left the port of Beirut, despite repeated warnings from him and others that the cargo, which contained the dangerous substance, was equivalent to a “floating bomb”.
Dahr’s predecessor, Chafi Marchi, wrote in a 2016 letter to the court that “because of the extreme danger posed by items stored in unsuitable climatic conditions, we reiterate our request to re-export the goods immediately, to maintain the safety of the port and its workers.”
Although Lebanese authorities have not determined that the source of the material that exploded is in the ship, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the huge 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 endangers the safety of the citizens. ”
Lebanon’s chief of security said the “explosive” had been confiscated years earlier and stored in a warehouse just minutes away from Beirut’s shopping and nightlife centers.
Yesterday, Lebanese Information Minister Manal ‘Abd al-Samad Najad said that there were documents from 2014 proving the existence of an exchange of information regarding the “material” confiscated by the Lebanese authorities.