Lebanon president says he knew of chemicals at port in July

Lebanese President Michel Aoun knew about the huge stockpile of explosive material stored at Beirut’s port nearly three weeks before it blew up, he said Friday, adding he had ordered action be taken about it at the time, although the top leader also said he had no authority over the facility.

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August 7, 2020 - 3:08 PM

BEIRUT, LEBANON - AUGUST 7: Beirut's residents voluntarily take to the streets with brooms in the aftermath of the deadly explosion to clean up the debris on August 7, 2020 in Beirut, Lebanon. The official death toll from the August 4 blast stood at 137, with thousands injured. Public anger swelled over the possibility that government negligence over the storage of tons of ammonium nitrate was behind the catastrophe. (Daniel Carde/Getty Images/TNS)

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanese President Michel Aoun knew about the huge stockpile of explosive material stored at Beirut’s port nearly three weeks before it blew up, he said Friday, adding he had ordered action be taken about it at the time, although the top leader also said he had no authority over the facility.

“Do you know how many problems have been accumulating?” Aoun replied when a reporter pressed whether he should have followed up on his order.

Aoun’s comments were the most senior confirmation that Lebanon’s top leaders and security officials were aware of the 2,750 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate that had been stored at the port for years.

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