Photo: Illustration; Image by Hapag-Lloyd

Hapag-Lloyd’s Beirut office completely destroyed, staff safe

Beirut-based office of the German liner shipping company Hapag-Lloyd was completely destroyed by the deadly blast that occurred on Tuesday in Libanon’s capital.

The company said that all Hapag-Lloyd staff and representatives were safe and sound.

“There were no Hapag-Lloyd vessels present in the port, but our containers, both laden and empty, most probably have been affected by the blast,” the liner major said in a company advisory.

The Port of Beirut has put all operations on hold and access to the area is not permitted.

Hapag-Lloyd said that its vessel Fleur N in its Levante Express (LEX) Service, will cancel the Beirut call, previously scheduled for August 7, 2020. The Beirut import cargo loaded on board of Fleur N will be discharged at Damietta, Egypt.

APL Norway, employed in the East Med Express, will also omit Beirut call planned for August 7, 2020, and will instead divert to Tripoli, Lebanon, to discharge the Beirut cargo.

The explosion and the subsequent blast in Beirut destroyed almost everything in the port and the surrounding area up to a radius of 10 kms. In magnitude, it was equal to an earthquake of 4.5 on the Richter scale, Lebanon-based GAC said in an update.

The GAC Lebanon office building, at the entry of the port, has been severely damaged.

“Multiple deaths and thousands of injuries have been reported, and an unknown number of people are still missing or under the rubble. Most of the city’s big hospitals were severely damaged and are no longer fit to receive any casualties. Field hospitals are being set up in the meantime,” GAC said.

The cause of the explosion and the extent of the damage are still under investigation. 

The blast is believed to have originated from a chemical storage warehouse where an estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate got ignited. The material has reportedly been confiscated in 2013 from the Moldovan-flagged cargo vessel Rhosus, which failed port state control Inspections. 

The death toll which currently stands at around 130 hundred people is likely to further increase over the coming days, according to the Lebanese Red Cross. Around 4,000 people are said to have been injured.

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