Does a Beirut-like disaster loom over Chennai?

Does a Beirut-like disaster loom over Chennai?
Photo: PTI

After a deadly explosion devastated parts of Beirut on Tuesday killing over 100 and injuring thousands, a potential disaster now looms over Chennai where a huge cache of ammonium nitrate is reportedly stocked in the harbour for years.

About 740 tonnes of seized ammonium nitrate is stored in containers at a freight station in Chennai since 2015, PMK founder S Ramadoss said on Thursday. He urged the government to take immediate steps to avert a possible Beirut-like incident.

"There is a risk of a similar explosion due to ammonium nitrate in the Chennai warehouse. To prevent this, the ammonium nitrate explosive substance in the warehouse should be safely disposed of and used for other purposes such as composting," he said in a tweet.

The stock belonging to a Karur-based firm are stored in 37 containers in Chennai, a local television channel reported. They were seized by Customs in 2015 for not having the required licence and permission.

Tuesday's explosion in Lebanon's port city of Beirut killed 135 people and injured about 5,000 people.

Buildings were damaged for miles around the city after 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive chemical used in fertilisers, stored at the facility for six years, reportedly caused the explosion, the biggest ever the country has seen.

(With inputs from agencies)

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