Families of Beirut port blast victims file $250m lawsuit in US

Accountability Now, a Swiss foundation that supports Lebanese civil society efforts to put an end to the impunity of the country’s leaders, filed a $250m lawsuit in Texas on July 11 against US-Norwegian geophysical services group TGS in relation to the 2020 explosion at the Port of Beirut. The lawsuit’s nine plaintiffs are either Americans or relatives of an American.

TGS owns British company Spectrum Geo, which Accountability Now said chartered the vessel that delivered 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate to Beirut. That material was then inadequately stored at the port until the explosion that killed more than 200 people, injured 7,000, left about 300,000 people homeless, and caused damage worth billions of dollars.

Zena Wakim, a lawyer for Accountability Now, said: “This claim will force TGS to disclose Spectrum’s communications with various third parties who are all relevant to the investigations in Lebanon.”

A report this week from the Associated Press noted that the Lebanese investigation into the explosion has been stalled since December 2021 due to legal challenges.

Wakim explained that the Accountability Now lawsuit is intended to help victims who feel hopeless. “They are not being heard. They have no recourses left in Lebanon. The judiciary is totally muzzled up.”

Beirut port has been back in the news over the past week as another fire has spooked local residents.
Smoke can still be seen today from wheat silos at the port a week on from the first in a series of small fires which broke out at the port. 

Authorities have blamed the blazes on the summer heat and the fermenting wheat at the bottom of the silos.