Danilo Coppe, one of Italy’s best known and highly trusted explosives experts, said on Friday that he did not believe the Beirut Port explosion was caused by ammonium nitrate, but rather an armed weaponry warehouse at, or near, the site.
Danilo Coppe is one of the most famous explosives experts in Italy. In 2019, he acted as a consultant for the demolition of the remains of Morandi, the bridge that collapsed in the port city of Genoa, killing at least 43 people.
“I do not believe there was that amount of ammonium nitrate at the Port of Beirut, nor that there was a fireworks depot,” he told the Italian daily Corriere.
The expert, nicknamed Mr. Dynamite, explained that when ammonium nitrate detonates, it generates an unmistakable yellow cloud.
“Instead, from the videos of the explosion, in addition to the white sphere that can be seen expanding, which is a condensation of the sea air, you can clearly see a brick orange column tending to bright red, typical of lithium’s presence.”
He believes that the explosion was that of a weapons warehouse.
“Lithium-metal is a propellant for military missiles, so I think there were armaments there,” the expert explained. “It was not 2,700 tons that exploded, because if it had been 2,700 tons that would mean 100 containers of ammonium nitrate. 100 containers do not explode simultaneously like that. Anything is possible in this life, but I don’t think it was ammonium nitrate that exploded.”
“I don’t believe in the ammonium nitrate theory for several reasons. First, the quantity: 2,700 tons would mean that someone built an Olympic size swimming pool and filled it with that substance,” Coppe says.
“From those photos it seems that it was far less Nitroprill in the warehouse than 2,750 tons. Conditions are typical for bag/bulk material storage in many places in the world. Wouldn’t be surprised that for six to seven years there, large quantity disappeared,” Coppe confirms.
“The warehouse was over 100 meters long. It is not impossible that it contained those quantities & some documents seem to prove that the material was there for years… There should have been a catalyst because, otherwise, it wouldn’t all have exploded together.”
Keep in mind, Coppe emphasizes that ammonium nitrate, when it detonates, generates an unmistakable yellow cloud. In the Beirut blast, we clearly witnessed a brick orange/dark red cloud.
The expert goes on to explain: “Between the 1st & 2nd blasts, what appears to be fireworks are seen to crackle. Fireworks don’t behave like that. They have some explosives and the rest is cardboard or plastic. Upon explosion, they [fireworks] are preceded by whistles, absent in the videos.”
Coppe suggests that there was a first blast, which may have started a fire where ammo was stored, which then spread to high explosives contained in rockets or missiles.
The explosion site has been claimed to be a weapon depot for Hezballah by Al Arabiya.
“The primary suspect is Hezbollah, more than anyone else in the world, because Hezbollah uses ports and all other Lebanese government facilities in order to acquire weapons,” said Lebanese journalist Jerry Maher during a televised interview with Al-Hadath on August 5th.
Furthermore, Al-Hadath News claimed that the Beirut port where the massive explosion erupted was a warehouse for Iranian Missiles to Hezbollah.
Dr. Ranif Khouri, professor of constitutional law and international relations told Al Hadath: “Storing explosives is an operation planned by Iranian intelligence and has been carried out in numerous countries.”
Dr. May Chidiac, journalist and former Lebanese Minister of Administration Progress, has confirmed that both Beirut airport and port are both completely controlled by Hezbollah.
That would explain the insinuating statement of Walid Joumblatt when he said he’s surprised Hezbollah didn’t know about the stored substances.
“We have time and again called for closing all illegal routes, but Hezbollah wouldn’t agree. Hezbollah smuggles arms from Iran through illegal passages,” says Dr. Chidiac.
These former officials are not the only ones pointing the finger at the Iranian-back party. Former Lebanese minister Ahmad Fatfat has been also vocal with voicing his opinion on the massive blast.
He stated, “Hassan Nasrallah rejecting an international investigation into the Beirut explosion places him among the suspects of this explosion. The Lebanese President is under Hezbollah’s control.”
From his side, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah denied on Friday any link with the explosive material stored in the port of Beirut.
“I absolutely and categorically deny that we had anything in the port: no weapons storage, no missiles, no rifles, no bombs, no bullets, no ammonium nitrate, nothing at all, neither now, nor in the past, nor in the future. The investigation will verify this,” Nasrallah said in statements recorded by the Lebanese News Agency (NNA).
Yet, here we are battling the facts of what happened with what he has said, and questioning the state adamant stance in refusing an international neutral investigation.