Investigators investigating the devastating explosion in Beirut, which killed at least 135 people and injured 5,000 others, point to a Russian ship that was docked in the city’s port for nearly seven years without proper security precautions in place Officials had warned that it was a “floating bomb”.
According to legal documents and Lebanese officials, the Russian ship named MV Rhosus, which was transporting agricultural fertilizer containing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate and was on its way to Mozambique, hit a financial hook in 2013 and docked in the port of Beruit.
Lebanese Customs Director Badri Hence repeatedly sent letters to justice over the years warning that the cargo was a “floating bomb”, but the warnings went unnoticed.
BEIRUT EXPLOSION LEAVES 300,000 APARTMENTLESS, LEBANESE PORT OFFICIALS UNDER HOUSE FASTENING
As a result, he repeatedly urged officials to remove the ammonium nitrate from the port as it posed a significant risk of explosion, he said during an interview with LBC TV late Wednesday.
Hence, he said marking the risks for the authorities was “extra work” for him and his predecessors that was outside of his responsibility to prevent smuggling and collecting tariffs.
He says it was the port authority’s job to monitor the material and store it appropriately.
The Russian ship was detained in port after “technical problems” were reported and the inspectors forbade her to proceed.
“Because of the risks associated with retaining ammonium nitrate on board the ship, the port authorities dumped the cargo into the port’s warehouses,” wrote lawyers who acted on behalf of the creditors in 2015, according to the Post. “The ship and the cargo remain in the port to this day, awaiting auction and / or proper disposal.”
FRANCE’S MACRON PROMISE, FOREIGN AID WILL NOT FALL INTO “CORRUPTED HANDS” LIKE OUTSIDE THE NEGLIGENT LEBANON “REGIME”
The lawyers said the owners abandoned the ship after supplies ran out, and the crew would eventually have to be returned to Russia for immigration restrictions for a longer stay in Beirut.
Explosion Tuesday, apparently caused by an accidental fire that ignited a warehouse filled with ammonium nitrate, spread to the Lebanese capital, causing widespread destruction.
The losses from the explosion are estimated at $ 10 billion to $ 15 billion, Beirut Gov said. Marwan Abboud told Saudi Al-Hadath on Wednesday, adding that nearly 300,000 people are homeless.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun swore before a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the investigation would be transparent and those responsible would be punished.
The Cabinet ordered an unspecified number of port officials in Beirut who were placed under house arrest pending investigation into how ammonium nitrate had been stored in the port for years. The government also declared a two-week state of emergency and effectively gave full powers to the military during this time.
CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP
Investigators are also considering another theory: The fire started when welders attempted to repair a broken gate and hole in the wall of Hangar 12 where the explosive material was stored. Local news reports that the repair was ordered by security forces who examined the facility and were concerned about theft.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.