Beirut port explosion mystery solved? UPDATES: 3 ships disappeared. VIDEO

Aug 5 1515 UTC UPDATE: Cruise ship ORIENT QUEEN, berthed at Beirut near blast site, was seriously damaged, started taking on water, capsized and sank starboard along berth, remaining partially above waterline. 2 crew reportedly (but not yet confirmed) died.
Cruise ship ORIENT QUEEN, IMO 8701193, GT 7478, built 1989, flag Bahamas, operator Abou Merhi Cruises.

Aug 5 0730 UTC UPDATE: Three ships were berthed near explosion site, AIS of all these ships are off during last 14-16 hours, immediately or shortly after, the blast. General cargo ship MERO STAR, IMO 8321682, dwt 4110; general cargo ship RAOUF H, IMO 8325535, dwt 6343; Livestock carrier JOURI, IMO 9174775, GT 4033.

In Jul 2014, I’ve been asked by one of Russian national newspapers to investigate the story of general cargo ship RHOSUS, stranded in Beirut with cargo of ammonium nitrate, following the letter they received from the Captain of the ship. That’s what I found out:
General cargo vessel RHOSUS called Beirut, Lebanon, in October last year. Vessel loaded with ammonium nitrate was destined for another country, the reason she called Beirut is unclear, maybe for supplies or due to some mechanical trouble. RHOSUS was detained after PSC inspection, which found a number of deficiencies. Since then vessel is stranded in Beirut. By now only four crew stay on board – Master (Russian nationality), Chief and Third Engineers and Bosun, all of them Ukrainians. Vessel was owned and operated by Mr. Grechushkin Igor, Russian citizen now Cyprus resident (last known manager Teto Shipping, Cyprus). RHOSUS actually, is abandoned – owner doesn’t communicate, doesn’t pay salaries, doesn’t provide supplies. Owner of the cargo declared abandonment, too. Beirut authorities don’t permit the remaining crew to leave the vessel and fly to home. The reason is obvious, port authorities don’t want to be left with abandoned vessel on their hands, loaded with dangerous cargo, explosives, in fact. Why don’t they want to arrest vessel with cargo, to release the crew and replace it with temporary local crew, is unclear.
Many believe that yesterday’s explosion in Beirut was caused by that  ammonium nitrate cargo on board of RHOSUS. Probably.
General cargo vessel Rhosus, IMO 8630344, dwt 3226, built 1986, flag Moldova.

A powerful explosion occurred in Beirut port area on Aug 4, killing and injuring dozens of people, and causing widespread damage. As of evening Aug 4, there’s no clarity with regards to the cause of explosion/explosions, and what triggered it. Russian witness insists he saw the ship on fire prior to blast, he managed to record fire and explosions on his mobile phone.



My name is Mikhail Voytenko, I’m Russian, professional merchant marine navigator, by education and former experience. I own and run Maritime Bulletin website for more than 10 years. I've been involved in solving a number of piracy hijack cases, including the hijack of ro-ro FAINA, loaded with tanks. It was me who made public, and unravel, freighter ARCTIC SEA mystery. I've been also closely involved in a number of maritime disaster, one of them being MSC FLAMINIA major fire.