By Spy Uganda
Authorities in Lebanon reveal that at least 137 people have been confirmed dead and 5,000 injured by Tuesday’s explosion in the Lebanese capital, according to the country’s Health Ministry.
The authorities previously stated that the giant blast was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate in the city port. The explosion left at least 300,000 of the city’s residents without a home, while the hospitals are overflowing with the wounded, as rescue teams digs up the rubble for more victims.
President Michel Aoun said the blast was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in a warehouse.
Customs chief Badri Daher said his agency called for the chemical to be removed, but “this did not happen”.
“We leave it to the experts to determine the reasons,” he said.
Ammonium nitrate is used as a fertiliser in agriculture and as an explosive.
Opening an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday, President Aoun said: “No words can describe the horror that has hit Beirut last night, turning it into a disaster-stricken city”.
Specialists at the University of Sheffield in the UK estimate that the blast had about one tenth of the explosive power of the atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War Two and was “unquestionably one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history”.
What triggered the explosion?
The ammonium nitrate had reportedly been in a warehouse in Beirut port for six years after it was unloaded from a ship impounded in 2013.
The head of Beirut port and the head of the customs authority both told local media that they had written to the judiciary several times asking that the chemical be exported or sold on to ensure port safety.
Port General Manager Hassan Koraytem said that they had been aware that the material was dangerous when a court first ordered it stored in the warehouse, “but not to this degree”.
Lebanon’s Supreme Defence Council has vowed that those found responsible will face the “maximum punishment” possible.
“I think it is incompetence and really bad management and there are a lot of responsibilities from management and probably previous governments. We do not intend after such an explosion to stay silent on who is responsible for what,” Economy Minister Raoul Nehme.
House arrest would apply for all port officials “who have handled the affairs of storing the ammonium nitrate, guarding it and handling its paperwork” since June 2014, Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad said.