700 tons of ammonium nitrate stuck in Indian port

A mobile crane prepares to stack a container at Chennai Port, southern India, March 16, 2012. (Reuters)
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Updated 07 August 2020

700 tons of ammonium nitrate stuck in Indian port

  • Indian authorities ordered a review of all potentially hazardous materials in its ports and were alerted to 690 tons of ammonium nitrate in Chennai in southern India
  • Thirty-seven containers of the compound were imported from South Korea in 2015 by an Indian firm for use in fertilizers but were seized after the substance was found to be explosives-grade

NEW DELHI: Almost 700 tons of ammonium nitrate, the substance that caused the mega-explosion in Lebanon, has been stuck in an Indian port since 2015, officials confirmed.
At least 153 people died and more than 5,000 were injured when 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate languishing for years in Beirut’s port caused a colossal blast.
Indian authorities afterwards ordered a review of all potentially hazardous materials in its ports and were alerted to 690 tons of ammonium nitrate in Chennai in southern India.
Thirty-seven containers of the compound were imported from South Korea in 2015 by an Indian firm for use in fertilizers but were seized after the substance was found to be explosives-grade.
The local customs department on Thursday sought to allay concerns, saying that the chemicals posed no danger and that an auction process to sell it off was under way.
“The seized chemical is securely stored and the safety of the cargo and public is ensured considering the hazardous nature of the substance,” a statement said.
Ammonium nitrate is an odourless crystalline salt that has been the cause of numerous industrial explosions over the decades.
When combined with fuel oils, it creates a potent explosive widely used in the construction industry, but also in homemade bombs such as those used in the 1995 Oklahoma City attack.
Many European Union nations require ammonium nitrate to be mixed with calcium carbonate to make a safer compound.
Industrial disasters are common in India. In May, styrene gas leaked from a factory in southern India, killing 15 people.
In 1984, toxic methyl isocyanate leaked from a pesticide factory in Bhopal, killing 3,500 people — and thousands more in the years afterwards — in one of the worst industrial disasters in history.


Nepalese team claim first winter ascent of Pakistan’s K2

Updated 41 min 40 sec ago

Nepalese team claim first winter ascent of Pakistan’s K2

ISLAMABAD: A team of Nepalese climbers on Saturday made history after becoming the first to summit Pakistan’s K2 in winter, according to a trekking company leading one of the expeditions.
Dozens of mountaineers have been competing over the past few weeks to summit the world’s second-highest mountain, the last peak above 8,000 meters to be topped in wintertime.
“WE DID IT” tweeted Seven Summit Treks.
“The Karakorum’s ‘Savage Mountain’ been summited in most dangerous season: winter. Nepalese climbers finally reached the summit of Mt K2 this afternoon at 17:00 local time.”
Since the maiden attempt in 1987-1988, just a handful of winter expeditions have been attempted on the storied 8,611-meter (28,250-feet) mountain in the Karakoram range along the Chinese border.
None had got higher than 7,650 meters until Saturday when the good conditions allowed the climbers to push ahead.
This winter an unprecedented four teams totaling around 60 climbers converged on the mountain, more than all the previous expeditions put together.
The 10 Nepalese climbers had earlier been spread across the different teams, but formed a new group in order to claim the feat in Nepal’s name.
Known as the “savage mountain,” winds on the peak can blow at more than 200 kilometers per hour (125 miles per hour) and temperatures drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 Fahrenheit).