BEIRUT: Lebanon prime minister and president last month had been warned about the 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in Beirut’s port as it posed a security risk and could destroy the capital if it exploded, according to documents seen by Reuters and senior security sources.
According to municipal authorities, just over two weeks later the industrial chemicals exploded in a massive blast that obliterated most of the port, killed at least 163 people, injured 6,000 more and destroyed some 6,000 buildings.
A report by the General Directorate of State Security about events leading up to the explosion included a reference to a private letter sent to President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab on July 20.
While the content of the letter was not in the report seen by Reuters, a senior security official said it summed up the findings of a judicial investigation launched in January which concluded the chemicals needed to be secured immediately.
The state security report, which confirmed the correspondence to the president and the prime minister, has not previously been reported.
Referring to the letter sent to the prime minister and president by the General Directorate of State Security, which oversees port security, the official said Prosecutor General (Ghassan) Oweidat prepared a final report which was sent to the authorities.
Reuters however could not independently confirm his description of the letter.