Lebanon’s army has found 4.35 tonnes of ammonium nitrate near the entrance to Beirut port which was the site of a powerful explosion last month, caused by a large stockpile of exactly the same highly explosive chemical.
A military spokesman said in a statement on Thursday that army experts were called in for an inspection and found the dangerous chemical in four containers stored near the port. In a worrying turn of events, there are no details of who owns the stockpile of chemicals. The previous stock of nitrate was apparently being stored there for a ‘mysterious’ Russian businessman who left it in storage for years – never to be claimed.
The find comes almost a month after nearly 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored at Beirut’s port for six years suddenly detonated, wreaking death and destruction across the city. Early reports of the cause were that welders brought into the port to carry out repairs in the storage area had somehow ‘sparked off’ the devasting explosion. A full and detailed investigation is still underway into the apocalyptic event that killed almost 200 people and left more than 6,000 injured.
It has been revealed recently that French experts, as well as the FBI, are taking part in the investigation into the explosion as requested by the Lebanese authorities. So far, 25 people have been arrested over last month’s explosion, most of them being port and customs officials.
Entire neighbourhoods were also devastated in the blast, nearly 300,000 people were left homeless and the damage amounted to billions of dollars. Lebanon’s government witnessed multiple resignations amid public anger in a nation already brought to its knees by a deep economic crisis.
The public remains anxious that more hazardous materials are being stored badly, putting them at risk. In a statement, the Lebanese army has said these containers have now been moved and stored safely in locations away from the port.