Beirut Explosion: Russian Owner Who Abandoned Ship Full of Ammonium Nitrate Questioned by Police

The Russian owner of the ship carrying explosives to Beirut that would explode earlier this week ended up on the other end of questioning by Cypriot police, according to Business Insider. Igor Grechushkin abandoned the ship, MV RHosus, and the 2,750 tons of explosives in its cargo back in 2014. The ammonium nitrate on the ship led to the massive explosion that shook the city of Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 150 people.

The explosion immediately raised suspicions that a military strike or terrorist attack hit the city, but it was later revealed to be an accident related to a fire that ignited the 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate.

According to Business Insider, Grechuskin is not under any suspicion for wrongdoing and has cooperated with requests from authorities, with police saying he was "very willing to come forward." It follows Lebanese officials questioning port officials and placing them under house arrest amid the investigation. According to reports, there were multiple warnings about the explosives before Tuesday's accident.

Cyprus police told The Daily Mail that they interviewed Grechushkin and confirmed he isn't facing punishment for the accident. "He is not facing any charges, nor is it likely that he will," Cyprus police spokesperson Christos Andreou told the outlet. "The request came in late Thursday and we acted on it immediately. It was a list of questions that authorities in Beirut wanted Grechushkin to answer."

The details of the interview haven't been made public yet and will be passed to officials in Beirut before being disseminated. They also didn't publicize the name of the interviewee, with later sources confirming it was the Russian businessman. According to Business Insider, Cyprus has become a "common haunt" for wealthy Russians, including the 43-year-old.

The investigation comes on the heels of the disaster and amid growing protests against the government and their recent missteps that have held back the beleaguered nation. On top of those growing issues, the destruction left by the explosion has presented a massive cleanup effort.


Three hundred thousand people or 12 percent of Beirut's population were directly affected by the blast according to expert estimates. Rescue efforts continued into Friday, though the end of the rescue almost reached the point where it switched to recovery.

"Our experience shows that we can find people alive until up to 72, 75 or 80 hours after an explosion or an earthquake, so for now we are still in time and we cling on to this hope," Col. Vincent Tissier of the French rescue team told journalists Friday.