Lebanon leaders 'warned about explosives' weeks before Beirut blast

Lebanon leaders 'warned about explosives' weeks before Beirut blast: report
2 min read
11 August, 2020
Two of Lebanon's top leaders were warned about the 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that caused the deadly Beirut blast, a report said.
The Beirut port explosion claimed the lives of over 170 people. [Getty]

Lebanon's President Michel Aoun and now-resigned Prime Minister Hassan Diab were both warned about the danger posed by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored at the port prior the explosion, a report said.

Lebanese security officials warned the president and premier last month that the industrial chemicals posed a security risk and could destroy the capital if it exploded, Reuters said in a report on Monday, citing documents obtained from senior security sources.

Two weeks after the alleged warning, the Beirut explosion claimed the lives of over 170 people, injuring another 6,000 and destroying thousands of buildings.

A report by the General Directorate of State Security reviewed by Reuters refered to a "private letter" sent to President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab on July 20.

The agency said it could not access the contents of the letter, but cited a confidential security official claiming the letter summed up the findings of an earlier judicial investigation which concluded the chemicals needed to be "secured immediately".

"There was a danger that this material, if stolen, could be used in a terrorist attack," the official told Reuters.

Read also: 'I don't want to die': Blast traumatises Beirut children

"I warned them that this could destroy Beirut if it exploded," the official, allegedly involved in the writing of the letter, was quoted as saying.

Another unnamed source representing Diab confirmed to the agency that the former premier had received the letter, but claimed it was referred to the Supreme Defence Council for advice, without further elaborating.

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