The bombings in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on Tuesday killed at least 150 people and injured more than 5,000.
The explosions recorded in numerous eyewitness videos took place shortly after six o'clock in Finnish and Beirut time. The explosions were preceded by a fire in the port warehouse.
In addition to personal injury, the explosion caused major damage to buildings in the area. Beirut Governor Marwan Aboud estimates that the accident left up to 300,000 people homeless.
- The whole of Beirut is covered in shards of glass, the whole city. The windows of the buildings and cars have been broken, Abed El-Sayed described the devastation from Beirut to IS on Tuesday.
Among the badly damaged buildings was also the newly completed Finnish Embassy in Beirut. All nine employees of the delegation survived without injury. According to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, one Finn was injured in the accident.
Read more: Finnish woman injured in Beirut explosion: “A piece is missing from my forehead”
The debris generated by the blast flew about 3.2 miles from the blast site. The explosion is also said to have been felt up to 240 km away in Cyprus.
According to current information, the explosion was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in the port's warehouse. Ammonium nitrate had time to be stored for about six years before the accident. Local customs authorities are said to have requested the removal of ammonium nitrate cargo from the port on several occasions over the years.
Ammonium nitrate is suspected to have ended up in the port from the Russian-owned vessel MV Rhosus. According to CNN, the ship was on its way through Georgia to Mozambique, but financial difficulties forced it to stop in Beirut. The crew eventually ended up abandoning the ship, and ammonium nitrate was seized in a warehouse where it was stored until a fatal day.
Ammonium nitrate is used, among other things, as a raw material for fertilizers and mining explosives.
Read more: The crew abandoned a Russian-owned ship carrying ammonium nitrate cargo into the port of Beirut in 2013 as a ticking time bomb
Numerous candles were lit in memory of the victims around the world. Picture of Iran in front of the Lebanese embassy.
Photo: Ahmad Halabisaz / Zuma / MVPhotos
Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab has launched an investigation into the cause of the explosion. The country’s military prosecutor announced late Thursday night that at least sixteen port workers had been arrested for the blast. France has also announced that it has launched an investigation into the accident.
Finland supports the Red Cross relief operation in Beirut by sending a team of experts and, among other things, medical and hygiene supplies.
Photo: Houssam Hariri / Zuma / MVPhotos
Was the explosion really only caused by ammonium nitrate?
Kurt Kokko, Tukes' group manager who specializes in explosion accidents, estimated to IS on Wednesday that based on the color of the Beirut explosion, there was possibly more than ammonium nitrate in stock.
- What else could have been there with which ammonium nitrate may have reacted. Or whatever else is on fire there that has caused the explosion, Kokko wondered.
Former CIA agent Robert Baer, meanwhile, said in an interview with CNN that he does not believe ammonium nitrate alone caused the explosion.
According to Baer, the orange fireball of the explosion indicates that there would also have been military explosives in stock.