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Rhosus captain denies responsibility for Beirut explosion

According to Boris Prokoshev, the port services had copied of the cargo papers, were notified about it being hazardous, and made no attempts to relocate it

KRASNODAR, January 13. /TASS/. Boris Prokoshev, the captain of the Rhosus, the ship that delivered 2,700 tonnes ammonium nitrate to the port of Beirut in 2013, claimed that he does not consider himself responsible for the Beirut explosion and will defend himself.

Previously, Watania News reported that the Lebanese authorities officially applied for an international arrest warrant from Interpol against two Russians - the owner and the captain of Rhosus. On Tuesday, Interpol issued the warrant. According to Watania, the red corner notification was issue in response to the application of the Prosecutor General of Lebanon.

"I have received no papers yet; it is unpleasant news, of course, and I do not know what to do right now. I will observe the development of the situation and will defend myself on my own: I do not have money for lawyers, of course, I live on my pension. I do not consider myself guilty," Prokoshev told TASS.

According to the captain, the port services had copied of the cargo papers, were notified about it being hazardous, and made no attempts to relocate it.

Previously, Prokoshev told TASS that, in 2013, the ship was owned by Igor Grechushkin, a businessman from Khabarovsk. TASS was unable to immediately obtain a commentary from Grechushkin.

According to the Russian Sailors’ Union, in 2013, the ship under the Moldavian flag, transported the hazardous cargo from Batumi to Mozambique, and made an unplanned visit to Beirut. The ship was seized by the local authorities there over technical violations. The crew comprised of citizens of Russia and Ukraine contacted the International Transport Workers’ Federation and disclosed that their employer, Cyprus-based Teto Shipping, has not paid sailors their salary since the beginning of the contract. In response, the ship owner from Khabarovsk promised to sell the ship and pay off all debts, but this did not happen.

The cargo of ammonium nitrate, unloaded in the port of Beirut six years ago, was kept in a port house, and detonated on August 4, 2020. The blast power was equal to that of 1,500 tonnes of TNT. The blast wave destroyed or damaged thousands of houses, killed 193 people, injured 6,500 people and left 300 people without a roof over their heads. According to the Lebanese police, the explosion was caused by an ignition of 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate during welding works. Over 20 people were arrested over the incident, including the former harbor director Hassan Koraytem and customs service head Badri Daher.