Amnesty International calls for international investigation into Beirut explosions
“The horrific scenes in the aftermath of the explosion yesterday were devastating for a country already suffering under the strain of multiple crises. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families at this tragic time,” Julie Verhaar, Acting Secretary General of Amnesty International said in a statement.
More than 4,000 were injured in the devastation.
“Whatever may have caused the explosion, including the possibility of a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely, Amnesty International is calling for an international mechanism to be promptly set up to investigate how this happened,” Verhaar said.
Lebanese officials have launched their own investigation into the two massive blasts at the port of Beirut. The second blast flattened the port and sent massive shockwaves throughout the city, burying people underneath rubble, upturning cars, shattering windows and devastating buildings.
Lebanese officials have said they were aware of the warehouse stockpiling explosives since 2014 and that an investigation will hold the responsible accountable.
They placed under house arrest all persons related to the management of the warehouse that stored the ammonium nitrate since 2014.
The New York Times reported that the stockpile of ammonium nitrate is believed to have come from a Russian-owned vessel that was abandoned in Beirut in 2013. Its cargo was offloaded into one of the port’s warehouses where the explosion occurred on Tuesday.
President Trump on Tuesday called the explosions an “attack” and said his military and national security advisors indicated to him that it was likely a bomb.
Lebanese officials have not indicated that the explosions were deliberate or an accident.
Lebanon is suffering under a massive economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic and the explosions are reminiscent of the country's devastating 15-year civil war and multiple wars with Israel.
The U.S. and other foreign governments have offered humanitarian assistance to Lebanon to help with the aftermath of the explosions.