In the Lebanese capital Beirut, after a powerful explosion in the port, search and rescue operations continue at the site of the destruction.
According to the latest data, cited by Reuters, at least 135 people died, about 5 thousand were injured. 250 thousand inhabitants were left homeless. The death toll is believed by the authorities to rise. After the explosion, dozens of people are considered missing. Rescuers are looking for them under the rubble.
The explosion in the port area of Beirut occurred on 4 August. The explosive blow was felt even in Cyprus. The buildings were damaged in half of the city area. A large number of buildings were destroyed, glass and doors were broken in them. Some of the furniture from the premises flew into the streets. The damage is estimated at billions of dollars.
The Lebanese authorities said that the cause of the incident was almost three thousand tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse in the port, which is used in the production of agricultural fertilizers, as well as for the manufacture of explosives and rocket fuel. According to the investigation, the substance was kept in unsafe conditions for six years, and negligence eventually led to a tragedy.
The country’s government has introduced a state of emergency in Beirut for a period of two weeks. The investigation is promised to be carried out as soon as possible. The Cabinet of Ministers ordered to send under house arrest officials responsible for the storage of saltpeter.
According to media reports, the substance was once confiscated from a ship owned by Igor Grechushkin, a Russian businessman from Khabarovsk, who now lives in Cyprus. In 2013, the ship Rhosus, sailing under the Moldovan flag, was forced to dock in the port of Beirut due to problems with electronics, on its way from Georgian Batumi to Mozambique. The Lebanese authorities banned the vessel from going to sea, the cargo was confiscated.
Boris Prokoshev, who was the captain of the ship at the time of those events, confirmed in an interview with the Siberia.Realii website that Rhosus belonged to Grechushkin. According to Prokoshev, the businessman has not yet paid the sailors from the ship a salary debt of tens of thousands of dollars, but all attempts to bring him to justice in Russia have not led to anything, since Grechushkin no longer lives there. At the same time, Boris Prokoshev blames the Lebanese authorities for the explosion in the port of Beirut. “There was no point in arresting this ship, it was necessary to get rid of it as soon as possible! When asked to release, I had to say: go already, nothing is needed from you! And they began to demand that the debt be returned to them for the port dues – and that’s what happened, ”says Boris Prokoshev.