Wheat in Beirut’s port granaries not usable

Lebanon will import wheat, economy minister says

Smoke rises from the site of an explosion in Beirut’s port area on Aug. 4, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Azakir)

Cairo | Reuters — Lebanon’s economy minister, Raoul Nehme, told local media on Tuesday that the wheat in Beirut’s port granaries cannot be used and that the ministry lost track of seven employees in the granaries.

The minister also told local media that Lebanon will import wheat and added that the country currently has enough wheat until they begin importing it.

A huge explosion Tuesday in port warehouses near central Beirut killed more than 75 people, injured almost 4,000 and sent shockwaves that shattered windows, smashed masonry and shook the ground across the Lebanese capital.

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun was quoted Tuesday as saying it was “unacceptable” that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate had been stored for six years at the port, allegedly without safety measures.

For comparison, the U.S. domestic terror attack that killed over 165 people in Oklahoma City in 1995 was carried out using about two tonnes of ammonium nitrate mixed with motor fuel.

Regulations have in place in Canada since 2008 tightening access to ammonium nitrate fertilizer and other potential “explosives precursors.”

Farmers and other buyers of ammonium nitrate must provide identification when purchasing, and are prohibited from reselling the chemical.

— Reporting for Reuters by Alaa Swilam. Includes files from Glacier FarmMedia Network staff.



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