Some senior Lebanese officials were aware of the risks of storing a highly explosive material at Beirut’s port before it exploded last year, killing dozens of people, a Human Rights Watch report concluded Tuesday.
The report was released a year after Lebanese officials blamed the Aug. 4 explosion on the detonation of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been improperly stored for six years at the Port of Beirut in the heart of the city.
The blast killed 214 people, injured thousands of others and destroy large swaths of the capital.
HRW called on the United Nations to launch an investigation into the explosion after its report concluded there was evidence that numerous Lebanese authorities, including caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab and state security head Tony Saliba, were criminally negligent under Lebanese law.
The group has also called for sanctions against the officials, who it says are now trying to impede an ongoing investigation.
A year into the probe, investigators have yet to determine who ordered the chemicals and why officials repeatedly disregarded internal warnings of their danger.
There was no immediate comment from Prime Minister Diab, but Saliba said his agency did all it could legally, including filing legal reports warning officials.
Saliba also noted his agency had an office at the port just months before the explosion.
Other officials have said they did not seek to have the chemicals removed from the port because it was not within their jurisdiction.
“The actions and omissions of Lebanese authorities created an unreasonable risk of life,” the report said.