Lebanon, Beirut port explosion

Lebanese government was warned 15 days before on the risk of an explosion in Beirut

A report sent two weeks before the explosion that devastated Beirut, warned the president and prime minister of Lebanon of the risk.

Lebanese officials warned the prime minister and the country’s president of the presence of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in the port of Beirut just two weeks before the explosion, warning that they posed a serious security risk and that if they exploded they could destroy the city, according to new official documents that have come to light.

Two weeks after the warning, the port of Beirut suffered a massive explosion that devastated more than half of the city, killing 163 people, causing 6,000 injuries and destroying some 6,000 buildings. The reconstruction of Beirut alone is estimated to cost about 15,000 million dollars, in a country that already before the disaster suffered de facto bankruptcy with losses in its banking system in excess of 100,000 million dollars.

The news has come out as a result of the leak of a report from the General Directorate of State Security on the events that led to the fateful explosion, which includes a reference to a private letter sent to Lebanese President Michel Aoun and the first Minister Hassan Diab on July 20.

Although the exact content of that letter is unknown, security sources have confirmed anonymously to the media that it summarised the conclusions of a judicial investigation started in January on the storage of ammonium nitrate in the port of Beirut, and that it warned that this material potentially explosive had to be secured urgently.

The report warned that an explosion could destroy Beirut

“There was a danger that this material, if stolen, could be used in a terrorist attack,” said the source. “At the end of the investigation, Attorney General Oweidat prepared a final report that was sent to the authorities,” he said, referring to the letter sent by the General Directorate of State Security to the president and prime minister of Lebanon. “I warned them that it could destroy Beirut if it exploded,” said the anonymous official, who was involved in drafting the letter.

The human and economic catastrophe caused by the explosion in Beirut, which has been the last straw for a country that already suffered a serious depression since 2018 aggravated by the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, has unleashed massive protests in recent days that finally led on Monday to the resignation of the Diab government, who in a brief televised appearance claimed to have reached the conclusion that corruption in the country “is bigger than the State” to the point of paralysing it completely.