Aug. 8, 2020
Lebanese president Michel Aoun was first informed on July 20 about a dangerous stockpile of ammonium nitrate in the port of Beirut – nearly three weeks before a huge blast killed 154 people and injured another 5,000.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, president Aoun said he immediately ordered military and security agencies to do “what was needed”, but suggested his responsibility ended there, saying he had no authority over the port and that previous governments had been told about the explosive chemicals.
“It is possible that it (the explosion) was caused by negligence or by external action, with a missile or a bomb,” he added.
According to newly surfaced documents cited by news agency AP, Lebanon’s customs, military, security agencies and judiciary warned at least 10 times over the past six years about a massive stockpile of dangerous goods being kept with almost no safeguard in the heart of the Lebanese capital.
A lawyers’ report from 2015 referred to the “dangerous” nature of the cargo and said it was being kept in the port “awaiting auction and/or proper disposal”. Yet it remained there until Tuesday’s disastrous consequences unfolded.