Lebanon requests Interpol to arrest ship captain and owner for Beirut port blast

Lebanon has requested to arrest the foreign owner and captain of the ship that brought the material which blew up Beirut port causing devastation.

The international police organisation Interpol was asked to detain two men without publicly identifying them.

At least 190 people were killed when improperly stored ammonium nitrate cargo exploded on 4 August. The blast injured 6,000 others and inflected huge damage across Beirut.

The captain of the ship, the MV Rhosus, has previously been named as a Russian national, and its owner a Russian national based in Cyprus.

The MV Rhosus had docked in Beirut in 2013 after suffering technical problems while sailing from Georgia to Mozambique.

Some 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were offloaded the following year and stored in unsafe conditions in a warehouse at the port, where it eventually exploded with catastrophic effect.

The ship itself, which was in poor condition, sank at the port in February 2018.

So far, at least 20 people have been arrested in connection with the case.

The explosion has caused outrage in Lebanon, with blame being directed not only at those in charge of the ship, but also the Lebanese authorities for failing to prevent it from happening.

The blast led to the resignation of the government, and efforts to form a new government have so far been unsuccessful.

The disaster came at a time when Lebanon was already suffering multiple crises with the collapse of its currency, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and months of demonstrations calling for an overhaul of the country’s political system.

Alongside the human toll, the explosion caused as much as US$ 4.6 billion in damage to buildings and infrastructure, according to the World Bank, and Lebanon has appealed for international help to recover.