How terrible for the poor of Lebanon to have that awful accident happen. They are already suffering as it is with the unrest in the Middle East, and people are already relying on aid from other countries.
The chemicals were stored at the port in Beirut by a Russian called Igor Grechushkin – who currently lives in Cyprus with wife Irina – and he has been accused of abandoning his ship with the lethal load. Ammonium nitrate is a chemical used in fertiliser bombs and is widely used by the construction industry but also by insurgent groups such as the Taliban and the IRA for improvised explosives.
The effect is that over 100 hundred people have died so far, and thousands hurt and sadly we know that the death toll will only get higher. Who on earth allowed this to be stored so close to where people live and work? There has to be accountability for this as it is not good enough that people have died because of some dodgy dealing, or just lapse of care. Either way it is shocking and horrific.
The bomb had a lethal distance akin to 1/5th of the nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Thankfully there is no nuclear fallout but the damage is real and it is people we are dealing with here. If windows were blown out some 15 miles away, it is not bear thinking about how awful ground zero will look. Some people will never be found and relatives will have nowhere to grieve and that is just unfair as we know that we get some form of comfort from knowing where our loved ones finally rest. This Russian must be brought to account in the Lebanon but sadly we know now he will get away with….probably crossing hands with money somewhere, or just staying out of reach of the legal system….but the Lebanese must demand he is brought to the courts or it will seem life has no value in some places.
The first warning about the potential danger of the chemicals stored at the port came on June 27, 2014 from then-director of Lebanese Customs Shafik Merhi, as reported by Al-Jazeera. Further letters were sent but ignored One letter sent in 2016 said: ‘In view of the serious danger of keeping these goods in the hangar in unsuitable climatic conditions, we reaffirm our request to please request the marine agency to re-export these goods immediately to preserve the safety of the port and those working in it, or to look into agreeing to sell this amount to the Lebanese Explosives Company.’
What happened from 2016 to now? Was nothing else done about it?
Numerous countries have offered monetary aid and this is the right thing to do and money should be diverted from our Foreign Aid department. Britain has offered both monetary and expert help along with France, Germany, Denmark, Russia and the Czech republic who are also sending experts to help and Jordan has made their hospitals available should there be a need. Jordan and His Majesty King Abdullah is for me an asset to the Middle East, and we should do more to help them but that is another blog. This is really a great chance for us all to come together and help a country that so desperately needs it. After all isn’t that what humanity should do?
Lebanon is currently run by the secretive group Hezbollah and they are in league with Iran so I hope that they do not pull any of their usual tricks of trying to intimidate the help and accept it for it is …. an act of good faith. Although knowing Hezbollah they will be back to attacking the West and its perceived enemies before much longer. It would be nice if they could see that by working with the West the people would benefit….but sadly these people are blinkered.
Thousands have been left homeless with this explosion and with the effect of Covid 19 affecting their country it really has been an awful time for the people, as the port area is where the food is imported to help the some 6 million people who rely on the aid could cause serious issues so maybe there is a need to fly the aid in and not let people starve or there will be further deaths through neglect. The poor people must be wondering just how much more they have to put up with. Israel has offered help and I hope the the offer is taken up as this is when people should come together.
I think sadly the death rate will go much higher.