When commercial explosives manufacturer Fábrica de Explosivos de Moçambique (FEM) never received its $700,000 worth shipment of explosive-grade ammonium nitrate, it simply placed an order for more.
Rewinding, FEM ordered the 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate (which ended up in Beirut) through a United Kingdom-based company, Savaro Limited, which ceases to exist today.
According to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), “Savaro Limited is linked to another company called Savaro in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, via a series of shareholders and directors in Cyprus and the United States.”
Although the Ukrainian director of Savaro denied to OCCRP that he had anything to do with the shipment, court documents show that Savaro made an attempt in 2015 to find information about the “quality and quantity of the ammonium nitrate then being held in the port warehouse,” said OCCRP.
Savaro hired a Lebanese lawyer and petitioned to the local court to inspect the shipment. Upon inspection, experts reported that around 1,900 bags of the one-tonne ammonium nitrate bags were ripped and slipping the chemical.
With more than half of the material in poor condition for retrieval, neither Savaro nor FEM ever tried to recover the shipment.
On August 4th, 2020, FEM’s dangerous material burst Beirut to pieces in a tragic explosion that will always be remembered in world history.
OCCRP reported that according to three European intelligence sources investigating the blast, it is likely the amount that devastated Beirut was only a portion of the initial 2,750 tonnes.
They believe the size of the explosion was more likely the result of 700 to 1,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate.
To back this up, weeks before the explosion, the Lebanese president and prime minister were warned by security forces about “serious security flaws” that could get the ammonium nitrate stolen, such as a missing warehouse door at Hangar 12 and a hole in another wall.
This opens the possibility to believe that more than half the chemical shipment was missing.
If there were as little as 700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate on August 4th, the explosion of 2,750 tonnes could have caused more than triple the amount of destruction – virtually wiping Beirut off the map.
Now the real question is where’s the rest of the ammonium nitrate?