Lebanese officials said on Wednesday the massive explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday occurred when a large cargo of ammonium nitrate seized from a ship in 2013 and left in a warehouse in the Port of Beirut for six years caught fire and exploded.

International media organizations checked maritime records and concluded the ship in question was a Russian vessel bound for Mozambique impounded for technical issues when it stopped at Beirut almost seven years ago.

ith over 100 dead and thousands injured, this least sinister of theories for the calamity could still be enough to bring down the unstable Lebanese government.

According to Lebanese Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi, the 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate was taken from a cargo ship and kept in storage ever since.

Radio Free Europe (RFE) deduced this must be a reference to the MV Rhosus, a ship owned by Russian businessman Igor Grechushkin impounded by Lebanese officials in 2013 because the ship was suffering technical problems when it entered the Port of Beirut. It was reportedly sailing under a Moldovan flag with a mostly Ukrainian crew at the time.

Other sources report the ship sailed from Georgia (in eastern Europe) and was bound for Mozambique when it docked in Beirut.

The onetime captain of the Rhosus, Boris Prokoshev, confirmed to RFE that his former ship was the likely source of the confiscated fertilizer cargo. 

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  • Does anyone think they are ready to handle nuclear materials? Oops!

  • I think Ammonium Nitrate stored in and exposed to natural decay in the heat is an accident waiting to happen...  due to a spontaneous chemical reaction... resulting in a massive explosion.  Ammonium Nitrate is used as an explosive in quarrying and mining.  It is very powerful and 2,700 tons of it exploding would be equivalent to a 2.7 KT atomic bomb detonating.


  • It definitely was taken from a Russian ship, but I doubt it was seized, it was imported!  The Russians have been supplying terrorist groups in the mid east for years.

    • The Russkies probably stashed a detonator in the load and if they got it siezed or didn't get paid for it just dial up a number and BOOM! problem solved. 

  • Why would you store flamable material for 6 years?  Sounds more like they shoved it in some corner and everyone forgot about it!

    • Exactly... Ammonium Nitrate becomes unstable over time.  Working to remove or move it after being stored in the heat for 6 yrs could have triggered the explosion.  This stuff is deadly when it becomes unstable.  It should have been flushed into the sea... gradually ... using large volumes of water.  Any other attempt to move it using heavy equipment like a front loader would probably set it off.

    • Hell the Lebanese get unstable over time as well as the Russians. Unstable cargo and unstable Muslims, bad combination. Renig on a deal and that's what you get.  

    • Looking at video of the event it appears that there was some sort of fire started that caused a big cloud of white smoke.  Then, later, the enormous explosion resulted.

      Not being an expert in explosives at all it does, however, appear to me that two separate events took place, first the fire for a period of time, then the explosion.

      If this is the case, then what caused the fire which led to the explosion?  Was the fire deliberately started, or accidentally? Hopefully it will be found out.

    • The fire once hot enough set off the Ammonia Nitrate... I wouldn't want to be the fire department responding to that fire... in fact, I'd quit or retire before showing up.  They needed to evacuate the area and let the fire do what it did... once it started it would be nearly impossible to put it out.  The explosion, however, consumed all the available oxygen and put the fire out.

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