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A Russian ship’s cargo of dangerous ammonium nitrate was stranded in Beirut port for years

As Lebanon’s investigation into the devastating blast in Beirut continues, officials have pointed to a possible cause: A massive shipment of agricultural fertilizer that authorities say was stored in the port of Beirut without safety precautions for years — despite warnings by local officials.

Documents newly reviewed by CNN reveal that a shipment of 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate arrived in Beirut on a Russian-owned vessel in 2013. The ship, named the MV Rhosus, was destined for Mozambique — but stopped in Beirut due to financial difficulties that also created unrest with the ship’s Russian and Ukrainian crew.

Once it arrived, the ship never left Beirut’s port, according Lebanon’s Director of Customs, Badri Daher, despite repeated warnings by him and others that the cargo was the equivalent of “a floating bomb.”

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