DANGEROUS GOODS are articles or substances capable of posing a risk to health, safety or the environment.
Authorities in Lebanon are busy counting the number of dead and injured after an explosion at Beirut Port that rocked the entire city on Tuesday 4th August, 2020 in the afternoon.
It is unacceptable that 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate have been stored in warehouses for six years, without any security measures. We will not remain silent. I will not rest until I know who is responsible for this incident and provide sanctions,” the Lebanese Prime Minister said.
What does ammonium nitrate mean about the cause of the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon ?
Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound that has many functions, ranging from fertilizer to making bombs or explosives. According to local government sources, ammonium nitrate has been a fertilizer ingredient stored in warehouses since 2014. Fertilisers were confiscated from cargo ships and awaiting further action such as auctioned or dumped. Ammonium nitrate as a fertiliser is a good source of nitrogen for plants. As for the explosives it is usually used in mining. However, ammonium nitrate is not explosive (explosive) by itself.
It is believed that a fire had started at port warehouse 9 on Tuesday 4th August and spread to warehouse 12, where the ammonium nitrate was stored. A source close to a port employee stated that a team that inspected the material six months ago warned it could “blow up all of Beirut” if not removed.
Production of ammonium nitrate with the NH 4 NO 3 chemical formula is relatively simple. This compound can be obtained by reacting ammonia gas (NH 3 ) with nitric acid (HNO 3 ) which then forms a concentrated, hot solution. When this solution is then crystallized, ammonium nitrate will form in solid form.
In July 2013 a Moldovian flag 87 metres long general cargo ship RHOSUS was detained in Beirut, whose captain had referred to its freight of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate fertiliser as a “floating bomb”. The ship arrived in Beirut while sailing from Georgia to Mozambique. She was prevented from leaving the Beirut port in 2014 over an unspecified dispute, either because the ship was deemed not seaworthy or because the owner had failed to pay the necessary fees to the port.
Document dating back to 2014 warning of the dangers of the Ammonium Nitrate in storage at the Lebanese port.
Former crew members said the ship was owned by Igor Grechushkin, a Russian national believed to be living in Cyprus, where he holds either citizenship or residency. Grechushkin, a native of the far eastern city of Khabarovsk, is reported to have managed Teto Shipping, which owned the RHOSUS. It was then that Grechushkin is said to have walked away from the ship, refusing to answer calls or negotiate with the port authorities for the release of his sailors. In 2014, former crew members said they had been “abandoned” in Beirut and had not been paid their wages for nearly a year. “The owner has virtually abandoned the ship and her crew,” wrote the ship’s former captain. “Salaries are not paid, supplies are not purchased. The shipowner has refused the cargo.”
A deleted LinkedIn profile lists Grechushkin as living in Cyprus and as working as a manager at Unimar Service Ltd. Calls to a company with a similar name and profile, Unimar Safety Services and Equipment, on Wednesday were not answered. Calls to a number for Grechushkin listed by the aggrieved crew members also went unanswered.
The letter, which was sent to Russian journalists by the Rhosus’s former captain in 2014, also complained about being “held hostage” onboard the ship. The Beirut authorities “don’t want an abandoned ship at port, especially with a cargo of explosives, which is what ammonium nitrate is. That is, this is a floating bomb, and the crew is a hostage aboard this bomb.”
The mostly Ukrainian crew were held onboard the ship for nearly a year before they were released. The ammonium nitrate was confiscated and held at the port in a warehouse.
The Russian television station Ren TV published a photograph on Wednesday of a man it said was Grechushkin in tight-fitting jeans and sunglasses sitting astride a motorcycle. The television station did not indicate the source of the photograph.
On Wednesday 5th August, 2020 Australia is donating $2m AUD (around £1.1m) to Lebanon. The money will be divided equally between the UN World Food Programme and the Red Cross.
Amid the horror, there was also incredible humanity on display, with the wounded recounting how they were helped to hospitals by complete strangers, and those whose homes survived offering hundreds of thousands of estimated homeless a place to stay. Parents and carers were also seen trying to physically shelter small children from the blast with their bodies.
Meanwhile The European Union is activating its civil protection system to round up emergency workers and equipment from across the 27 nation bloc to help Beirut. The EU commission says the plan is to urgently dispatch over 100 firefighters with vehicles, sniffer dogs and equipment designed to find people trapped in urban areas. The Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Poland and the Netherlands are taking part and others are expected to join.The EU’s satellite mapping system will help Lebanese authorities to establish the extent of the damage. Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarcic says the EU “shares the shock and sadness” of Beirut residents and stands ready to provide extra help.
Before the enormous blast, there was a fire at Beirut port with the below duty firefighters fighting the blaze of which few minutes later the massive blast happened and everybody you see in this picture was killed. RIP heroes.
Pallets of aid are being loaded in Dubai to be flown to Beirut –
What we know so far –
Beirut awoke to scenes of devastation this morning, following two huge explosions in its port which sent a blast wave across the city, killing at least 100 people and injuring nearly 4,000.
Rescuers have continued to search for victims who remain trapped under rubble. In one video shared today 5th August, a rescue team can be heard clapping and cheering as a survivor is pulled to safety.
Hospitals, several of which were damaged in the blast, have been inundated with patients. In Gemmayze district, medical teams were forced to triage patients in a car park, while the Red Cross said it is coordinating with the Lebanese health ministry to set up morgues.
Aerial images from the scene of the explosion illustrate the impact of the blast, which destroyed crucial silos that contained around 85% of the country’s grain. Lebanon’s economy minister, Raoul Nehme, said the wheat in Beirut’s port granaries cannot be used and that the ministry lost track of seven employees in the granaries.
Later in the afternoon Lebanon’s government has agreed to place all Beirut port officials who have overseen storage and security since 2014 under house arrest, citing ministerial sources said.
Earlier today afternoon Hellenic Air Force Lockheed C-130H and Qatar Air Force Boeing C-17A were spotted descending to Beirut, Lebanon , with first aids.
Solidarity to Lebanon from All of MSPAP crew.
Watermarked Photos are by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com
Published – Wednesday 5th August, 2020