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Victims file $250m lawsuit demanding compensation over Beirut port blast 

Relatives of victims of the 04 August Beirut port explosion stage a protest in front of the Justice Palace in Beirut, Lebanon, 07 February 2022. [Houssam Shbaro - Anadolu Agency]
Relatives of victims of the August Beirut port explosion stage a protest in front of the Justice Palace in Beirut, Lebanon, 7 February 2022 [Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency]

Nine victims of the 2020 Beirut port blast have filed a $250 million lawsuit against an American-Norwegian firm suspected of involvement in bringing the explosive material to the port, AFP reported a Swiss foundation assisting the plaintiffs saying yesterday.

Accountability Now; which says its mission is to support Lebanese civil society efforts to put an end to the culture of impunity of Lebanese leaders, said the lawsuit was filed in Texas on Monday against US-Norwegian geophysical services group TGS.

The company owns British firm Spectrum Geo, which a decade ago chartered the Rhosus ship, which was carrying the ammonium nitrate that was subsequently unloaded at Beirut port and exploded on 4 August 2020, causing the third largest non-nuclear explosion in recent history.

The nine plaintiffs are either Americans or have American relatives, including Sarah Copeland, who lost her two-year-old son, Isaac, who was one of the explosion's youngest victims.

The blast killed more than 200 people and injured more than 6,500 others, and caused widespread destruction in a number of neighbourhoods in the capital. It could be felt as far away as Cyprus.

According to the Lebanese authorities, the explosion was a result of large quantities of ammonium nitrate being stored in poor conditions at the port.

It later emerged that senior officials were aware of the dangers of storing the industrial chemical but did not make efforts to have it removed or ensure it was correctly stored.

According to Accountability Now, Spectrum had "entered into a series of highly profitable but suspicious contracts with the ministry of energy of Lebanon" to transport seismic survey equipment from Lebanon allegedly to Jordan aboard the Rhosus.

Spectrum had chartered the Moldovan-flagged Rhosus but the ship never actually set sail.

READ: Lebanon central bank governor, brother sue state over 'mistakes' in embezzlement probe

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