Behind the Beirut Explosion: Seven Years of Official Neglect

BEIRUT—The 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate sailed into the city nearly seven years ago. The ship’s captain at the time called it a “powder keg.” The cargo, a chemical compound used for blasting mines and building car bombs, was seized when the ship carrying it was found unseaworthy and its owner failed to pay…

BEIRUT—The 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate sailed into the city nearly seven years ago. The ship’s captain at the time called it a “powder keg.”

The cargo, a chemical compound used for blasting mines and building car bombs, was seized when the ship carrying it was found unseaworthy and its owner failed to pay certain fees, according to the ship’s captain and the International Transport Workers’ Federation, a global trade union. It ended up in a warehouse as Lebanese officials, lawyers, judges and a Russian shipper bickered…

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