One year after the Beirut port explosion, a new Human Rights Watch report implicates senior Lebanese officials in the disaster that killed 218 people, wounded 7,000 others and destroyed vast swaths of the city. The blast on August 4, 2020, was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history. It resulted from the detonation of hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate, which had been sitting in a hangar at the port for years while multiple government officials who knew about the highly explosive chemicals did nothing. “We didn’t find any Lebanese official who took any responsibility for securing the port and removing the ammonium nitrate,” says Human Rights Watch researcher Aya Majzoub. “The levels of corruption and negligence that we found through this documentation was really just shocking.” We also speak with Nisreen Salti, economics professor at the American University of Beirut, who says the port explosion is part of a decades-long pattern of “negligence and corruption and collapse” in Lebanon. “What the port explosion has done, instead of being a turning point or a moment of reckoning, has just pushed us further into the abyss of total economic freefall.”
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