Lebanon receives Beirut blast satellite images from Russia

The scene the day after an explosion hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, August 5, 2020. (Bilal Hussein/AP)
The scene the day after an explosion hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, August 5, 2020. (Bilal Hussein/AP)

Lebanon’s foreign minister says that Russia has delivered satellite images of the Port of Beirut on the day of last year’s devastating blast, which he says could help figure out what happened.

Abdallah Bouhabib is visiting Moscow. He speaks after a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

“We thanked and highly appreciate receiving satellite images for the blast at Beirut Port on Aug. 4, 2020 and we will hand them over to the Lebanese judiciary, hoping that can help in revealing the truth of this tragedy that has hit Lebanon,” Bouhabib says during a press conference.

Russia’s space agency Roscosmos says it will provide the satellite images after a request from Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

Lavrov says he hopes the images help in the investigation.

He says that the images show the port of Beirut before the blast and also the scene after the blast.

“Roscosmos experts said it should help specialists figure out what happened based on the character of destruction,” Lavrov says.

“Let’s hope that the Lebanese experts, probably with the help of foreign colleagues, will sort out this issue that has become a serious political irritant for Lebanon,” he says. “We would like to help resolve it as quickly as possible.”

Nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate — a highly explosive material used in fertilizers — had been improperly stored in the Beirut port for years. On August 4, 2020, the fertilizer ignited, causing a massive blast that killed over 216 people and injured more than 6,000, while destroying parts of the city.

It was described as one of the worst non-nuclear explosions in the world. But more than a year later, it is still unknown what triggered the initial fire that caused the explosion, who was responsible for storing the material in the port, and why it stayed there for so long.

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