A powerful explosion in the port of Beirut, which led to massive destruction and numerous casualties in the Lebanese capital, was due to the detonation of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate unloaded from the ship Rhosus in September 2014. Such data are provided by the Lebanese channel LBCI following the meeting of the Supreme Defense Council. The actual owner of this vessel was businessman Igor Grechushkin, according to the sailors who worked for Rhosus. reported zona.media
The confiscated saltpeter was stored in a warehouse at berth 12 in the port of Beirut, awaiting further disposal since 2014. At the council meeting, information was announced about a recent inspection at the pier, which found that the warehouse can be accessed without hindrance through a certain gap.
The explosion, according to preliminary information, occurred during welding work, which was supposed to block access to the inside: sparks ignited some firecrackers, also stored in the warehouse, and then 2,750 tons of saltpeter detonated. The port infrastructure was almost completely destroyed.
The port director told the board that the ammonium nitrate was offloaded to berth 12 in accordance with the court’s decision, and there was no free access to the seized cargo.
“We will collect the facts about this dangerous cargo, which has been stored since 2014, that is, six years,” promised Prime Minister Hassan Diab. “I will monitor the progress of this investigation.”
The Rhosus vessel, carrying 2,750 tons of saltpeter from Georgia’s Batumi to Mozambique, made an unscheduled stop in Beirut in September 2013 due to problems on board.
The inspection, having examined Rhosus, prohibited the crew from taking the ship out of the port. The Lebanese authorities released part of the crew, but left four sailors, who were forbidden to go to the ground until the appearance of the replacement crew.
The owner of the ship, a native of Khabarovsk, Igor Grechushkin, who lives in Cyprus, according to the sailors, “actually abandoned the ship” – the lawyers of the creditors received three arrest warrants for Rhosus, which operated under the Moldovan flag.
“Initially, there were eight Ukrainian sailors on board,” said Natalya Klamm, executive director of the Odessa Assol Seamen Aid Fund. “After the sailors with our help turned to the Ukrainian consul, five of our compatriots were able to return home. To keep the vessel alive, four crew members remained on board: three Ukrainians and one Russian. ” For a long time, the remaining crew members had to ask for help; they returned from Lebanon only a year later.
“Due to the risks associated with storing ammonium nitrate on board, the port authorities moved the cargo to one of the warehouses onshore,” the lawyers involved in the Rhosus case told Arrest News. “The vessel and its cargo remain in port awaiting sale and / or disposal.”
According to the MarineTraffic service, which last recorded the location of Rhosus in 2014, the vessel was indeed near the 12th berth where the explosion occurred.
On the thematic forums of seafarers, there are repeated negative reviews about the ship owner Igor Grechushkin and his company Teto Shipping Ltd: seafarers write about salary delays and the poor condition of the ship. Teto Shipping Ltd was incorporated in the Marshall Islands in 2012 and ceased to exist in September 2014.
In July 2013, Rhosus was arrested for 14 days in Seville, according to data from the Spanish Ministry of Transport.
According to the latest data, the explosion in the port of Beirut killed at least 78 people, injured at least four thousand; large-scale destruction in the city.