Years of negligence lead to deadly Beirut blast

Initial investigations indicate years of inaction and negligence over the storage of highly explosive material in Beirut port caused the blast that killed over 100 people on Tuesday, an official source familiar with the findings said cited by Reuters. The PM and presidency said on Tuesday that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilisers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures.

“It is negligence,” the source said, adding that the storage safety issue had been before several committees and judges and “nothing was done” to issue an order to remove or dispose of the highly combustible material. The source said a fire had started at warehouse 9 of the port and spread to warehouse 12, where the ammonium nitrate was stored.

Badri Daher, Director General of Lebanese Customs, told broadcaster LBCI on Wednesday that customs had sent six documents to the judiciary warning that the material posed a danger. “We requested that it be re-exported but that did not happen. We leave it to the experts and those concerned to determine why,” he pointed out. Another source close to a port employee said a team that inspected the ammonium nitrate six months ago warned that if it was not moved it would “blow up all of Beirut”.

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