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In response to the devastating explosions in Beirut on August 4th, Lebanon authorities have ordered the house arrest of all port officials involved in the storage of the 2,750 tonnes of volatile ammonium nitrate responsible for the blast.

The explosions have so far resulted in more than 150 deaths, five thousand injuries, and widespread destruction, including to the port. Lebanon is heavily dependent on imports, and Beirut port is the country's main gateway, accounting for around three quarters of all import volume.

The ammonium nitrate had been stored at the port for several years, seized from an Africa-bound ship in 2013. Ammonium nitrate is a fertiliser that can also be used for bomb-making.

Investigations so far suggest that the explosions were likely to have been caused by accident, but government officials had apparently ignored warnings of the extreme danger of storing the chemicals so close to the city. Customs officials had requested its re-exportation, to no avail.

Source: Financial Times, BBC News

Header image: Marten Bjork

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