Beirut Explosion: Russian Ship Brought Chemical that Caused Explosion

Although there is no solid confirmation that the 2,750 tonnes of chemicals were that of MV Rhosus, Prime Minister Hassan Diab told reporters that the blast was caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored for six years at the port warehouse.

Beirut is having a hard time recovering from the explosion.
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The Beirut explosion has exposed the negligence of the port authorities, which allowed the storage of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate from an abandoned Russian ship. Officials conducting the investigation are digging deeper into how this massive shipment of ammonium nitrate was stored in the port of Beirut without extreme precautions for years.

CNN reported that government documents they have obtained specify 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate arrived in Beirut on a Russian-owned vessel, MV Rhosus, in 2013. The ship was supposed to just pass by Beirut for refueling and proceed to Mozambique, which is supposed to be its final destination.

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The Floating Bomb in Beirut Ports

Although there is no solid confirmation that the 2,750 tonnes of chemicals were that of MV Rhosus, Prime Minister Hassan Diab told reporters that the blast was caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored for six years at the port warehouse. This coincides with how long the chemical cargo shipments of MV Rhosus was in Beirut.

Media reports did not elaborate on what the chemicals will be used for, nor didn’t they state which company it was purchased from in Russia. However, it was reported that during its stopover in Beirut, MV Rhosus was eventually abandoned by its seafarers and its owner.

According to Beirut officials and as reported by CNN, the owner of the ship lives in Cyprus. Lebanon’s Director of Customs, Badri Daher, told the press that he has desperately warned all authorities involved that the cargo was not supposed to be kept in the ports as it is a “floating bomb”.

In 2016, Daher’s predecessor, Chafic Merhi, has asked a court to order Port Authorities to “re-export” the goods immediately because it posed extreme danger.

Lebanese Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad Najd also told reporters that since 2014,  there are documented exchange of information between authorities regarding something that was confiscated by Lebanon officials.
She told Beirut local media that the communication that happened is in relation to the potential cause of the fatal blast.
According to media reports, a company named Teto Shipping is the owner of MV Rhosus. Crew members of the ship told CNN that it is owned by a certain Igor Grechushkin, a Khabarovsk businessman.
It got stuck in Beirut after it failed to fail necessary port dues and due to a lack of financial capability to proceed with the journey. The crew members said they were also unpaid by the owner at that time and that they have to sell the fuel of the ship so that they can pay a lawyer who can represent them for a lawsuit.
The sailors eventually abandoned the ship and were repatriated to their homeland while the chemicals remain on the ship, and after a few more months, Port authorities unloaded it.

More deaths and casualties

Rescue operations are still being conducted in Beirut as there are still reports of missing persons after the explosion. As of Wednesday, the death toll has already risen to 135, and there are 5,000 casualties recorded. Officials are still expecting the numbers to hike.

Lebanon’s government said 100,000 people were devastated after the explosion, and most were left without a decent place to live in. The usual neighborhood of cafe, restaurant, shopping centers, and clubs were replaced by flattened land full of debris and probably dead bodies that are still buried in rubles.

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