Disasters & Accidents

Lebanese President admits knowledge of nitrate at Beirut port

Beirut, Aug 12 (EFE).- The Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Wednesday admitted he knew on 20 July that a “large amount” of ammonium nitrate was being stored at Beirut’s port, a couple of weeks before the explosion.

“President Aoun was informed on 20 July through a state security report about the presence of a large amount of ammonium nitrate in one of the wards of the port of Beirut,” the presidency posted on Twitter.

“The military advisor to his excellency informed the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Defense,” in the presence of the cabinet “to take the necessary measures,” the presidency added.

The secretary general of the Supreme Council of Defense referred in the text to the “competent” departments, according to the presidency.

“The Presidency of the Republic has every desire that the judicial investigation takes its course according to the texts and using all experiences to show the complete truth about the explosion, its circumstances and those responsible for it at all levels,” it added.

This comes after local media speculated that both Aoun and Hassan Diab, who resigned as prime minister on Monday, were aware of the ammonium nitrate at the Beirut port.

Aoun has been under mounting pressure not only from protesters calling for the departure of the ruling elite but also from some in the political sector.

A couple of days ago, the president accepted the resignation of Diab’s cabinet and asked them to continue in a caretaker capacity until a new government is formed.

On 4 August, an explosion involving 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate at a warehouse in the Beirut port left 171 dead and more than 6,000 injured.

Beirut authorities estimated in the first days after the tragedy that around 250,000 people had become homeless, a figure not yet officially consolidated by the government.

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