Shock transforms to rage in Beirut after threats of a fatal explosion

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The outrage at the destruction triggered by the huge port explosion in Beirut gave way to frustration on Thursday, when fresh details appeared that authorities in the Lebanese capital had dismissed numerous alerts regarding a store of toxic chemicals related to the blast. There is a the body of evidence, including e-mails and public court records, that officials knew about the shipment about thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate once identified as a “floating bomb” that had been intercepted by the Lebanese authorities and had been held in a port warehouse for the past six years, but had refused to act.

They (CNN), announcement that the explosion may be due to government incompetence has given rise to long-standing outrage at Lebanon’s political class, which has fallen deep into debt, and the pervasive inequality that has filled the coffers of the rich elite to the detriment of vital public services and infrastructure. Yet years of political negligence has left no optimism to those on the ground that some inquiry would come to the facts as to why these vast amounts of toxic materials were permitted to be kept in the center of the city without proper protection measures and who is accountable.

According to an interview from CNN, “This incident here, this tragedy, they’ve been thinking about it for 20 years. The trial, it’s never going to stop. No verdict, no outcome,” said one of the inhabitants of downtown Beirut. Jad Chaaban, associate professor of economics at the American University in Beirut, said, “It is a systematic crime by the political power.” “They have perpetrated a felony by keeping such nitrates there for more than a decade, with little transparency,” Chaaban said, adding that there is increasing outrage among the citizens. – Adapted from CNN

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