Lebanon PM’s office backtracks after citing unspecified FBI blast report

The office of Lebanon’s caretaker premier backtracks a day after he said an FBI report found only 500 tons of fertilizer caused the devastating Beirut port blast.

Hassan Diab, who resigned in the wake of the August 4 blast that killed more than 200 people, said last summer that more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer had been stored haphazardly at a port warehouse for years.

According to his office, the outgoing prime minister yesterday told journalists a report by the US domestic intelligence agency showed less than a quarter of that amount had actually exploded.

Diggers remove earth at the blast site next to the silos at the port of Beirut on August 16, 2020, in the aftermath of the massive August 4 explosion there that ravaged Lebanon’s capital. (Anwar Amro/AFP)

But it issues a clarification now.

“Prime minister Diab was relying on unofficial information attributed to the FBI,” his office says. “Diab has not received an official report on this matter from the FBI.”

One of his advisers tells AFP he had been referring to press reports.