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2750 tons of saltpeter exploded in the port of Beirut: it was brought there by a Russian businessman

As of the morning of August 5, as a result of two explosions that occurred on August 4, at least 100 people were killed in the port of the Lebanese capital of Beirut, more than 4 were injured, and several quarters of the city were completely destroyed. A large shipment of ammonium nitrate (also known as ammonium nitrate) exploded after being kept in the port without security measures for a long time, authorities said. Writes about it with the BBC.

Photo: Shutterstock

The port of Beirut has been completely destroyed. The governor of the city said that half of the city's buildings were damaged by the explosion. Glass and shop windows were broken not only in the quarters adjacent to the port, but also within a radius of 20 km. The blast wave was felt even in Cyprus - about 200 km from Beirut, writes "Focus".

Rescuers continue to search for more than a hundred people, whose fate is unknown. Some of the port workers were thrown into the sea by the explosion.

In Beirut, a state of emergency may be declared for two weeks during a government meeting. The country's Defense Council has already made an appeal to transfer control over security to the army during the emergency.

According to local media, the death toll could rise as people remain under the rubble.

One of the victims of the explosion was a well-known Lebanese politician, general secretary of the right-wing Christian party "Kataib" Nizar Najaryan. For the most part, the party expresses the interests of Lebanese Christians, opposing Hezbollah and supporting the Syrian opposition. Najaryan, who received multiple injuries from the blast wave, died in hospital.

The ship with saltpeter belonged to a Russian businessman

Ammonium nitrate, which exploded in a port in Beirut, was confiscated from the Rhosus vessel back in September 2014. And the owner of this vessel was a Russian businessman Igor Grechushkin from Khabarovsk (Russia), writes "Glavcom".

Rhosus transported 2750 tons of saltpeter from Batumi to Mozambique. In September 2013, it made an unscheduled stop in Beirut due to a malfunction on board.

After checking the ship, the crew was forbidden to take it out of the port. The saltpeter confiscated from the vessel was stored in a warehouse at the 12th berth of the port of Beirut, it had to be disposed of. As the vessel was carrying dangerous cargo, the Lebanese authorities left four sailors on board to wait for the replacement crew.

The owner of this vessel is Russian businessman Igor Grechushkin, a native of Khabarovsk, living in Cyprus. So the sailors working for Rhosus said. According to them, the owner declared that he had gone bankrupt and "actually abandoned the ship." The lenders' lawyers received three arrest warrants for Rhosus, which flew under the Moldovan flag.

“Initially, there were eight Ukrainian sailors on board,” said Natalya Klamm, executive director of the Odessa Assol Seamen Aid Fund. “After the sailors with our help turned to the Ukrainian consul, five of our compatriots were able to return home. To keep the vessel alive, four crew members remained on board: three Ukrainians and one Russian. " For a long time, the remaining crew members had to ask for help; they returned from Lebanon only a year later, writes "Mediazone".

“Due to the risks associated with storing ammonium nitrate on board the vessel, the port authorities moved the cargo to one of the warehouses onshore,” noted the lawyers involved in the Rhosus case. “The ship and its cargo remained in port awaiting sale or disposal.”

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According to the MarineTraffic service, which last recorded the location of Rhosus in 2014, the vessel was indeed near berth 12 where the explosion occurred.

On the thematic forums of seafarers, there are repeated negative reviews about the ship owner Igor Grechushkin and his company Teto Shipping Ltd: seafarers write about salary delays and the poor condition of the ship. Teto Shipping Ltd was incorporated in the Marshall Islands in 2012 and ceased to exist in September 2014.

What is Ammonium Nitrate

Ammonium nitrate, also known as ammonium nitrate, is widely used as a nitrogen fertilizer and as an explosive.

It is especially explosive on contact with combustible materials and open fire. After the explosion of ammonium nitrate, toxic gases, including nitrogen oxides and ammonia, can be released into the atmosphere.

Since this substance is especially dangerous, strict requirements are imposed on its storage conditions. One of them is that the room where ammonium nitrate is located must be fireproof, it is forbidden to install any pipes, hoods or other channels where explosive substances can accumulate.

Experts say that the red smoke that was visible over the port after the explosion may also indicate that it was an ammonium nitrate explosion.

The explosion, according to preliminary information, occurred during welding work, which was supposed to block access to the inside: sparks ignited some firecrackers, also stored in the warehouse, and then 2 tons of nitrate detonated.

What do eyewitnesses say

“I saw the fire, but it was not yet clear that there would be an explosion. We went inside. Suddenly I went deaf, because, apparently, I was very close. For a few seconds I suddenly stopped hearing - then it became clear that something had happened, ”says Hadi Nasrallah. - And then suddenly glass fell in the cars next to us. And in neighboring cars, shops and houses too. Just glass was falling from everywhere. "

“Almost all over Beirut, people called each other from districts in different parts of the city - and everywhere it was the same: the windows were broken, the buildings were shaking. Loud explosion, - says the witness. “We were shocked, because usually when this happens, the effects of the explosion are felt in only one area. And this time - all over Beirut, even outside the city, - says the witness. "

“We arrived in Beirut by car in the early evening, when it was not dark yet, and absolute chaos reigned everywhere. The streets are full of broken glass. It was difficult for the ambulances to get through - there were bricks and concrete blocks everywhere. Whole houses have collapsed, ”says journalist Sunniwa Rose. - When we arrived at the port, it became clear that the military had cordoned off it. They told us to stay out of the way because the explosion could happen again. "

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“The smoke rose over the port until late in the evening. The whole city turned black. It was very difficult to walk the streets: we met bloodied people. I saw a doctor treating an 86-year-old woman who had just run out of his house with a first aid kit. The cars were completely smashed by stones, says Rose. - In my own apartment, too, all the glass is broken. The scale of the damage is incredible. "

Trump believes this is an attack

US President Donald Trump does not believe the explosion in Lebanese Beirut is an accident. He believes that this is the result of an attack and a bomb explosion, writes "Glavcom".

The head of the White House said this at a briefing.

Trump said he talked about it with some generals, and they told him that the Lebanese capital was attacked with "some kind of bomb."

“Looks like an attack based on the nature of the explosion. I met with some of our generals, and it seems to them that this is an attack, and not some kind of explosion in a factory. All this looks like, in their opinion, an attack. It was some kind of bomb, "Trump said.

But the leadership of the US Army said they had no information that the explosion in Beirut was due to an attack from outside.

Trump's words were denied by three Pentagon officials who wanted to remain anonymous.

One of the military said that if there was information about the attack, then measures would be taken to protect the American army, which is in the region.

As ForumDaily wrote earlier:

Miscellaneous explosion Beirut World

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