Saturday, July 13, 2024

Beirut silo collapses, repeats the shock before the anniversary of the explosion


  • Silos reminding of the explosion of August 4, 2020
  • The blazing fires have been causing tension in Beirut for weeks
  • The explosion of 2020 is a symbol of the corruption of the Lebanese elite

BEIRUT (Reuters) – A portion of the silos in Beirut’s port collapsed on Sunday just days before the second anniversary of the massive explosion that damaged it, sending a cloud of dust over the capital and reviving painful memories of the explosion that claimed people’s lives. More than 215 people.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Lebanese officials warned last week that part of the silos – in a major reminder of the catastrophic explosion on August 4, 2020 – could collapse after the northern part began tilting at an accelerating pace.

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“It was the same feeling when the explosion happened. We remembered the explosion,” said Tariq Hussein, a resident of the nearby Karantina district, who was buying groceries with his son when the collapse occurred. “A few big pieces fell,” he said, “and my son was afraid when he saw it.”

Silos have been on fire for several weeks, and officials said it was the result of the summer heat igniting fermented grain that had been left inside rotting since the explosion.

The 2020 explosion was caused by ammonium nitrate that has been unsafely stored in the port since 2013. It is widely seen by the Lebanese as a symbol of corruption and mismanagement by the ruling elite that has also pushed the country into a devastating financial meltdown.

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The explosion was one of the most powerful non-nuclear explosions on record, injuring about 6,000 people and shattering large swathes of Beirut, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless.

Ali Hami, Minister of Transport and Public Works in the caretaker government, told Reuters that he feared the collapse of more parts of the silos soon.

Environment Minister Nasser Yassin said that while authorities did not know if other parts of the silos would fall, the southern part was more stable.

The fires in the silos, which glowed orange at night inside a port still resembling a stricken area, have left many Beirut residents nervous for weeks.

“Removing Traces” August. 4

There has been controversy over what to do with the damaged silos.

The government made a decision in April to destroy them, angering the families of the victims, who wanted them gone in order to preserve the memory of the explosion. Parliament failed last week to pass a law that would have protected them from demolition.

Citizens’ hopes that there would be accountability for the 2020 blast waned as the investigating judge faced high-level political resistance, including legal complaints from the top officials he sought to question.

Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati said he rejects any interference in the investigation and wants it to take its course.

However, reflecting a mistrust of the authorities, many people said they believed the fire was deliberately or deliberately started and not contained.

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Divina Abu Joudeh, an engineer and member of a committee representing victims’ families, residents and experts, said silos should not fall.

“They were gradually becoming more inclined and needed support, and our whole goal was to support them,” she told Reuters.

“The fire was normal and it speeded things up. If the government wanted it, they could have contained and reduced the fire, but we have a suspicion that they want the silos to collapse.”

Reuters was not immediately able to reach government officials to respond to the accusation that the fire may be contained.

Earlier this month, the economy minister noted difficulties in putting out the fire, including the risk of silos falling or the fire spreading as a result of atmospheric pressure from army helicopters.

Karantina resident Fadi Hussain said he believed the collapse was intended to remove “any trace of August 4”.

“We are not worried about ourselves, but rather our children about the pollution” resulting from the collapse of the silos, he said, noting that the country’s power outages resulted in his inability to operate a fan in the house to reduce the impact of dust.

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Written by Naira Abdullah and Tom Perry Editing by Hugh Lawson, Nick McPhee and Frances Kerry

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Rainerio Manuel
Rainerio Manuel

"Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst."



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