After the worst single explosion to strike Lebanon — a country whose history is filled with destruction from a 1975-1990 civil war, conflicts with Israel, and periodic terrorist attacks — Apple has pledged to help the stricken area.
A 2,750-ton cargo of ammonium nitrate, a component of fertilizer that is potentially explosive, had been stored at the port since it was confiscated from a Russian-owned Moldovan-flagged cargo ship, the MV Rhosus in 2013, and on Tuesday it is believed to have detonated after a fire broke out nearby.
A 2017 letter from the director general of Lebanese customs to a judge warned of the “dangers if the materials remain where they are, affecting the safety of (port) employees” and asked the judge for guidance. He said five similar letters were sent in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The letter proposes the material be exported or sold to a Lebanese explosives company. It is not known if there was a response.
The blast killed at least 137 people and injured about 5,000 others, while many others are still missing. An estimated 300,000 people have been displaced from their homes.
Apple is donating to relief organizations that are helping with immediate needs and long-term support in Beirut. We grieve with the people of Lebanon, our employees and all those affected by the tragedy.
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) August 7, 2020
Prior to the massive explosion, Lebanon already was on the brink of collapse amid a severe economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment was high and many Lebanese have watched their savings evaporate because of a currency crisis. Having reliable access to food is of great concern, since Lebanon imports nearly all its vital goods and, due to the explosion, its main port is now devastated. The government, which seems ineffective as seen by years of crumbling infrastructure, power outages, and poor services, claims to be strapped for cash.