How years of dysfunction, corruption and incompetence led to Beirut explosion

Edited By: Palki Sharma WION
New Delhi, India Published: Aug 07, 2020, 07:52 PM(IST)

Smoke rises after an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020, in this picture obtained from a social media video.  Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The blast zone is now a wasteland of blackened ruins, while whole neighbourhoods were largely destroyed.

A day before the port blast that killed more than 150 people and ravaged parts of Beirut, the country's Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti resigned after warning that it is ''siding towards becoming a failed state''.

The doomsday prediction began taking shape within hours and came true a day later. The blast zone is now a wasteland of blackened ruins, while whole neighbourhoods were largely destroyed.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Friday the explosion was caused either by negligence or a missile attack.

Also see: Satellite images capture Beirut before vs after devastating blast

It could have been "negligence or foreign interference through a missile or bomb," the president said in a televised interview, three days after the explosion.

He rejected calls for an international probe after world leaders and Lebanese nationals abroad and at home pressed for an impartial investigation.

However, experts believe that the incident was designed by years of dysfunction, corruption and incompetence.

It is a warning for the rest of the world as well as the disaster could happen anywhere.

Also see: Explosion decimates Beirut's port, disrupting the struggling country's lifeline

The storage of ammonium nitrate, the substance behind the deadly explosion in the port of Beirut on Tuesday, has come under increased regulation in recent years to avoid involvement of the ubiquitous product in accidents which, although rare, can be devastating. Since 1916, it has been responsible for at least 30 major disasters.

What happened in Beirut was criminal negligence. It was a bomb that waited to go off for almost seven years and nobody bothered to defuse it.

The explosive ammonium nitrate arrived in Lebanon seven years ago, in 2013. Lebanese custom officials requested for the cargo’s disposal at least six times. But no one paid heed. It's as if they wanted this disaster to happen.

While corruption and incompetence is a deadly mix, adding ammonium nitrate makes it a ticking bomb waiting to explode.

Almost 700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate has been stuck in an Indian port since 2015, officials confirmed.

Indian authorities afterwards ordered a review of all potentially hazardous materials in its ports and were alerted to 690 tonnes of ammonium nitrate in Chennai in southern India.

Thirty-seven containers of the compound were imported from South Korea in 2015 by an Indian firm for use in fertilisers but were seized after the substance was found to be explosives-grade.

The local customs department on Thursday sought to allay concerns, saying that the chemicals posed no danger and that an auction process to sell it off was under way.

Although the mega-explosion happened in Beirut but entire Lebanon is now in ruins.

This a grim reminder for the world how corruption and incompetence created the perfect highway to hell.

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