An American assessment of the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon last week has determined it was likely caused by maintenance work being done in the warehouse, which housed a stockpile of ammonium nitrate, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The blast, which killed over 160 people Aug. 4 and destroyed a large portion of the capital, prompted the Lebanese Prime Minister and his cabinet to resign earlier this week. The country's parliament later declared a state of emergency.
Although President Donald Trump said soon after the incident that U.S. military leaders suspected "a bomb of some kind," was behind what he called a "terrible attack," an assessment conducted by the State Department has found no evidence of intent or foul play, concluding instead maintenance work caused a fire that led to the ignition of the chemical stockpile. These results match the conclusion reached by Lebanese investigators, which is the explosion was likely caused by welding at the port.
A source told the Journal that the General Security, Lebanon's top security agency, was aware of the ammonium nitrate and had requested last month it be secured. On the day of the incident, workers from the port were sent to the warehouse to conduct welding to make the facilities secure, according to the newspaper's sources. This likely caused some confiscated fireworks of ammunition to ignite, which caused a chain reaction leading to the explosion. The workers were reportedly unaware of the dangerous material being stored in the warehouse.
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