The chemicals that went up in flames in Beirut’s deadliest peacetime explosion arrived in the Lebanese capital seven years ago on a leaky Russian-leased cargo ship that, according to its captain, should never have stopped there. “They were being greedy,” said Boris Prokoshev, who was captain of the Rhosus in 2013 when he says the owner told him to make an unscheduled stop in Lebanon to pick up extra cargo.
Prokoshev said the ship was carrying 2,750 tonnes of a highly combustible chemical from Georgia to Mozambique when the order came to divert to Beirut on its way through the Mediterranean.
The crew were asked to load some heavy road equipment and take it to Jordan’s Port of Aqaba before resuming their journey onto Africa, where the ammonium nitrate was to be delivered to an explosives manufacturer. But the ship was never to leave Beirut, having tried and failed to safely load the additional cargo before becoming embroiled in a lengthy legal dispute over port fees.
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