Sixteen arrested for Beirut blastas authorities investigate possible “external interference“

By Helene Fung

Lebanese authorities have taken 16 people into custody, as part of their investigation into the Beirut Port explosion, which killed over 150 people and injured thousands more on Tuesday.

President Michel Aounsaid “there is a possibility of external interference through a rocket or bomb or other act” as the cause.

The blast was reported to be from 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate being stored for six years at the port warehouse, under insufficient safety measures.

State news agency NNA reported that those arrested includes the general manager of Beirut Port, Hassan Koraytem, and that the authorities had question more than 18 port and customs officials as well as maintenance and warehouse workers.

The Lebanese central bank’s special investigation commission for money laundering and terrorism fighting announced on Thursday that it has frozen the accounts of seven people, including Mr Koraytem, Lebanese customs director-general BadriDager and five others including present and former port and customs officials.

Lebanese State Prosecutor GhassanOueidat also ordered a travel ban on the same seven people.

The investigation is continuing, and rescuers are still sifting through rubble in a race against time to find possible survivors.

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