A massive explosion rocked a port area in Beirut, Lebanon on Tuesday possibly involved a large volume of ammonium nitrate, an explosive crystalline chemical used as a fertilizer, that was stored in a warehouse at the site, Lebanese officials said in the wake of the incident.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab stated that some 2,700 tn of ammonium nitrate caused the explosions, which claimed more than 130 lives and left about 5,000 people with injuries, coverage by The Guardian said.
Sources told Reuters that officials were aware for several years that the ammonium nitrate in the warehouse posed a safety risk because it was improperly stored, with one group of inspectors warning that the material could “blow up all of Beirut” if it was not removed to a safer location.
It appears the ammonium nitrate was put into the port warehouse several years ago after the material was confiscated from a ship, according to an account by Newsweek. The exact cause of the explosion remains unknown