To the Lebanese, who do not yet see the light at the end of the tunnel, they now promise to clear the shadows that left the deflagration of August 4, 2020. That day, the port of Beirut shook with an explosion of unprecedented magnitude, which left more than 200 dead and 6,500 injured. The blast wave devastated entire neighborhoods, for several kilometers around, without sparing a crystal.
Ten months later there is still no clear explanation on the chain of events. But the investigating judge, Tariq al Bitar, who took the case in January, promises to solve it within two months. According to the magistrate, the technical phase of the investigation is almost over and the statements of key witnesses from ground zero will begin shortly, who survived almost miraculously.
The judge anticipates that only three hypotheses are alive. Namely, an accident, an attack and an air attack with projectiles. One of them – it has not clarified which one, possibly the last one – would have already been “70% discarded”.
This statement coincides with the arrival, on Monday, of a “preliminary report” from France. Paris follows its own instruction, for the death of French citizens. A judicial collaboration expressed in a visit to Beirut last week and that does not detract from the role that an agile Emmanuel Macron has defended that France must play again in Lebanon.
In the absence of a coherent version of the tragedy rumors have proliferated. Something unavoidable in a country traumatized and under great pressure from its neighborhood with Syria and Israel. As well as the tutelage that Saudi Arabia and Iran exercise over rival factions but that cannot afford a full-fledged divorce, at the risk of tearing a country that is a true mosaic again.
Riyadh, which long ago withdrew the net to a Lebanon in free fall, toIt now threatens to close this month to Lebanese products.
With the aim of shedding light, the judge revealed the day before yesterday that the first hypothesis is that “there was an accident during a weld, which would have caused the fire and the explosion ”.
More than 200 dead and 6,500 injured in Beirtu. AFP photo
“The second hypothesis is a terrorist attack and the third is to have been target of a missile in an airstrike”, Has concluded the judge, who also reveals the usefulness of the testimony of seven surviving workers.
The tentative explanation attributed the explosion to 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, which had been confiscated from the Rhosus, a ship originating in Georgia, which passed through Turkey, Greece and Cyprus and whose final destination would be Mozambique.
This extremely dangerous cargo would have been recklessly stored and forgotten in warehouse number 12. At that time, the war in Syria was raging and both pro-regime militias and opponents of the regime could be interested in ingredients for explosives. Not forgetting that Hezbollah accumulates a huge arsenal in open defiance of the UN.
Although the large demonstrations that began in October 2019 were extinguished with the pandemic, without achieving their objectives of political oxygenation, there are still live concentrations to claim responsibility for the explosion.
In these twenty months, the Lebanese pound has lost almost 90% of its value. After feeding the rumors of a stricter corralito, the Central Bank assured yesterday that in July it will be possible to withdraw 400 dollars a month and its equivalent in local currency. The World Bank is already warning that Lebanon’s economic collapse is on track to rank among the world’s worst financial crises since the mid-19th century.