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Lebanon Officials Ignored Warnings on Chemical Tied to Blast

  • Explosion caused by flammable materials at port, official says
  • Lebanon is in worst political, financial crisis in decades
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Watch: Dozens of people have been killed and thousands have been injured by a massive explosion in Beirut. (Source: Bloomberg)
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The volatile chemical suspected of causing the deadly explosion that flattened Lebanon’s main port had been lying in storage there for six years despite warnings from customs officials about its hazards, documents show.

The ammonium nitrate -- equivalent to 1,800 tons of TNT -- was unloaded from the cargo ship Rhosus in 2014, according to two letters issued by the director general of Lebanese Customs. For reasons that are unclear, dockworkers unloaded the chemical, which can be used to make fertilizers and explosives, and put it into storage.