Lebanese security officials warned the prime minister and president last month that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in Beirut’s port posed a security risk and could destroy the capital if it exploded, according to documents and senior security sources, APA reports citing Reuters.
Just over two weeks later, the industrial chemicals exploded in a massive blast that obliterated most of the port, killed at least 163 people, injured 6,000 more and destroyed some 6,000 buildings, according to municipal authorities.
A report by the General Directorate of State Security about events leading up to the explosion included a reference to a private letter sent to President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab on July 20.
While the content of the letter was not in the report seen by Reuters, a senior security official said it summed up the findings of a judicial investigation launched in January which concluded the chemicals needed to be secured immediately.
The state security report, which confirmed the correspondence to the president and the prime minister, has not previously been reported.
“There was a danger that this material, if stolen, could be used in a terrorist attack,” the official said.