Anger builds up in Beirut as paper trail reveals the huge explosion that devastated Lebanon capital was foreseeable and several warnings were ignored.
Beirut city is a ‘disaster zone’ after the huge explosion devastated the capital causing at least 5,000 wounded and 135 dead. As the investigation continues, a paper trail reveals the explosion was foreseeable.
Beirut explosion foreseeable, warnings were ignored
Hospitals, already packed with Covid infections, are now struggling with thousands of wounded after the huge explosion destroyed Lebanon capital. At least 300,000 residents are now homeless, dozens of people are missing and rescuers are doing all they can to keep on digging to find corpses and hoping for survivors. While the government has announced a two-week state of emergency, people want answers after their lives have been destroyed.
A Beirut resident said: “I’ve known all the time that we are led by incompetent people, incompetent government […] But I tell you something – what they have done now is absolutely criminal.”
The Supreme Defence Council affirmed those found responsible will face the “maximum punishment”. In the meantime, investigation continues while the government has announced several port officials were already being placed under house arrest for what happened. People all around the world are asking for justice and Amnesty International together with Human Rights Watch want an independent investigation over the disaster. Human Rights Watch representatives confirmed they have “serious concerns about the ability of the Lebanese judiciary to conduct a credible and transparent investigation on its own”.
Whatever may have caused the explosion, including the possibility of a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely, we’re calling for an international mechanism to be promptly set up to investigate how this happened.
— Amnesty International (@amnesty) August 5, 2020
Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch, confirmed: “Given the Lebanese authorities’ repeated failure to investigate serious government failings, an independent investigation with international experts is the best guarantee that victims of the Beirut explosion will get the justice they deserve”.
Meanwhile, the investigation continues and a paper trail reveals shocking proofs of government negligence over the toxic substance.
The toxicity issue
A paper trail reveals Beirut port authorities had reported the hazardous chemical several times.
The warehouse was filled with ammonium nitrate that had been there since 2014. Reportedly, the chemical arrived on a Moldovan ship, the Rhosus, which stopped at Beirut port after having technical problems. The ship was soon abandoned and the 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was since then stored in the warehouse. Ammonium nitrate is a chemical used in agriculture as a fertiliser and in mining as a component for explosives. After this chemical explodes, the air becomes contaminated with nitrogen oxides and ammonia gas among many other toxic gases.
Six years ago, the former captain of the Rhosus had said to Russian journalists that the owner of the ship, reported as Igor Grechushkin, had abandoned it as the crew was “held hostage” by Beirut authorities. “The owner has abandoned the ship. The cargo is ammonium nitrate. It is an explosive substance. And we’ve been abandoned. We’ve been living for 10 months on a powder keg.” The cargo was once called a “floating bomb” and its toxicity was not unknown. Only six months before the explosion port officials inspecting the warehouse sent another warning as if the ammonium nitrate was not moved it would “blow up all of Beirut”.
After confirmation of the government negligence, residents are desperate, homeless and searching for their family members. From a balcony, a sign reads: “Whose heads will be hung?”. While the investigation continues, the anger is building up as paper trails reveals more details.