When the former sea captain woke up on Wednesday to find an e-mail saying that a ship he once commanded had carried the ammonium nitrate that exploded in Beirut, he became stupid. “I did not understand anything”he said Thursday in a dialogue with the agency AP from the village of Verkhnee Buu, where he lives, 1,300 kilometers south of Moscow.
The message was from a journalist and was named MV Rhosus, who had the captain of a trip he never got paid for. “I opened the inbox and saw a letter about Rhosus; I thought maybe they sent me money, my salary “, dijo Boris Prokoshev.
The 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that exploded in the port of Beirut on Tuesday, killed 154 people, injured more than 5,000 and caused extensive destructionThey would not be in Lebanon at all. The explosion has led to outrage in Lebanon against authorities that allowed the storage of the dangerous substance for several years.
Prokoshev sympathizes with them: “It is very bad that people who had nothing to do with it have died. I realized that the Lebanese government has caused this situationSaid the former captain.
When the Rhos sailed from the Georgian port of the Black Sea in Batumi, it was on its way to the Mozambican port of Beira. But he made a planned detour to Beirut, as the Russian shipowner struggled with debt and hoped to get some extra money in Lebanon..
Igor Grechushkin, a Cyprus-based Russian businessman, bought the cargo ship in 2012 The Cypriot businessman Charalambos Manoli. Grechushkin has been questioned by police at the request of the Interpol office in Lebanon, said Cypriot police spokesman Christos Andreou, but has not been detained.
Prokoshev, now 70, said he joined the ship in Turkey in 2013, after the previous crew resigned over unpaid wages.. Grechushkin received a million dollars to transport the dangerous cargo from Georgia to Mozambique, the former captain said.
The chemical products must be delivered to the Mozambique Explosives Factory, a company mainly owned by the Portuguese explosives company Moura Silva e Filhos. Imports of ammonium nitrate are common in Mozambique, either for the manufacture of fertilizers or for use as explosives in quarries and coal mines.
The ship stopped in Beirut to try to make extra money by buying different pieces of heavy machinery.. But the extra burden turned out to be too heavy for Rhosus and the crew refused to accept it. The ship was soon confiscated by the Lebanese authorities for failing to pay port dues, and it never left the port again.
Prokoshev and three other crew members were forced to stay on board due to immigration restrictions. The former captain said they were caught on the ship for 11 months, with food and other necessities. He said Grechushkin abandoned them without paying the salary or debt he had in the port. At the Beirut terminal, they received food of sin.
Some time He sold some of the fuel and used the money to hire lawyers, who had the crew mercifully released in 2014.. The court application emphasized “the imminent danger facing the crew due to the” dangerous “nature of the cargo,” the lawyers wrote in a 2015 article published by shiparrested.com, a website that provides information on ship arrests and discharges.
The cargo was transferred to a port warehouse only after the crew disembarked and returned to Ukraine in 2014Prokoshev said. It’s been there ever since … until it exploded on Tuesday.
According to the captain the ship sank several years after they left. Had a hole in the helmetand the crew, while on it, must regularly pump water to keep it afloat. But Charalambo’s Manoli claims that the ship remained docked in Beirut and was destroyed in Tuesday’s explosion; says he saw the wreck on pictures of the destroyed harbor.
With AP information
MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC:
A disappointing Russian ship and its mysterious owner, the beginning of the road that ended with the explosions that mourn Lebanon
Explosion in Beirut: Hundreds of people protested for the resignation of the Lebanese government
The explosive cloud of incompetence in Lebanon