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Report: Chemicals in Beirut port were ordered by Mozambique

August 10, 2020 at 4:51 pm

Smoke rises after a fire at a warehouse with explosives at the Port of Beirut led to massive blasts in Beirut, Lebanon on August 4, 2020 [Houssam Shbaro – Anadolu Agency]

The nearly 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that led to the large blast in Beirut which devastated the city, had been ordered by an explosives manufacturing company in Mozambique but never arrived, CNN reported on Friday.

Spokesman for the Fábrica de Explosivos Moçambique (FEM), a Mozambican explosives manufacturing company, spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity over privacy concerns.

“We can confirm that yes, we did order it,” the spokesperson told CNN.

He confirmed that the shipment began its journey from Georgia in 2013 and it ended in a warehouse in Beirut where it has been for more than six years. The shipment never made it to Mozambique.

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Several months after it was shipped, the spokesperson said, “we were just informed by that trading company: there’s a problem with the vessel, [which carried the material], your order is not going to be delivered. So, we never paid for it, we never received it.”

The spokesperson said that colleagues at the company were very “surprised” to learn how long the chemical had been stored at the port as “that’s not a material that you want to have stored without having any use for it.”

He added: “It’s a dangerous material.”

More than 200 people were killed, 6,000 were injured and some 300,000 made homeless after a massive explosion in Beirut port ripped through the capital last Tuesday. The blast destroyed parts of the city and intensified the economic and political distress which has engulfed Lebanon for months.