Who did store the chemicals that blew up Beirut? | All Round View

Who did store the chemicals that blew up Beirut?

Beirut Explosions on August 04, 2020 (All Round View File Photo)

All Round View (Islamabad): In the murky story of how a cache of highly explosive ammonium nitrate ended up on Beirut water front, one thing is  clear – noon of one ever publicly come forward to claim. There are many unanswered questions surrounding last week huge, deadly blast in the Lebanese Capital, but ownership should be among the easiest to resolve.

Clear identification of ownership, especially of a cargo as dangerous as that carried by the Moldovan-Flagged Rhesus when it sailed into Beirut seven years ago, is fundamental to shipping, the key to insuring it and settling disputes that often arise.

Those linked to the shipment and interviewed by the media all denied knowledge of the cargo’s original owner or declined to answer the question. Those who said they did not know anything even the ship’s captain, Georgian fertilizer maker who produced the cargo and the African firm that ordered it but said it never paid for it.

Shipping records show the ship loaded ammonium nitrate in Georgia in September 2013 and was  meant to deliver it to an explosive maker in Mozambique. But before leaving the Mediterranean,  the captain and two crew members say they were

instructed by the Russian businessman they regarded as the ship’s de-facto owner Igor Grechhuskin, to make an unscheduled stop up in Beirut and take an extra cargo.

The Rhosus arrived in Beirut in November but never left, becoming tangled in a legal dispute over unpaid port fee and ship defects. Creditors accused the ship’s legal owner, listed as Panama based firm, of abandoning the vessel and the cargo was later unloaded and put in dockside warehouse, according to official accounts.

The Beirut law firm that acted for creditors, Baroudi & Associates, did not respond to requests to identify the Cargo’s original legal owner, All round view was unable to contact Grechushkin.

The empty ship eventually sank was moored in 2018, according to Lebanese customs.

One of the questions which is still unanswered is that who paid for the ammonium nitrate and did they ever seek to reclaim the cargo when the Rhosus was impounded? And if not, then why not ?

The cargo, packaged in large white sacks, was worth around $700,000 at 2013 prices, according to an industry source.