Lebanon receives French Beirut port blast report

It has almost been a year since a deadly blast wrecked Beirut port

This picture shows the grain silos at Beirut port, almost a year after the August 4 massive explosion that killed more than 200 people and injured scores of others, on May 27, 2021.  / AFP / Joseph EID
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Lebanon on Monday received a preliminary report from France regarding last year’s massive port blast in Beirut that killed over 200 and wounded thousands, judicial officials said.

The officials said the French report was useful for the ongoing investigation in Beirut over the August blast, which decimated the country's main port and caused severe damage to surrounding areas.

The officials declined to give details about the report.

Nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate – a highly explosive material used in fertilisers – had been improperly stored in the port for years. The catastrophic blast on August 4 killed 211 people and injured more than 6,000.

Days after the explosion, French forensic police experts took part in the investigation and left weeks later.

Nearly 10 months after the blast, it is still not known what triggered an initial fire at the warehouse that then caused the explosion or who was responsible for storing the rotting fertiliser at the port warehouse for years.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned amid outrage over the explosion, and prime minister-designate Saad Hariri has not been able to form a new Cabinet since.

That has worsened an unprecedented economic and financial crisis that has seen the local currency collapse and thrown nearly half the country's population into poverty.

Earlier this month, the judge investigating the blast, Tarek Bitar, requested that countries with satellites stationed over Lebanon provide authorities with images taken before and after the explosion that could help their investigation.