Collapse of part of the grain silos at the port of Beirut

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Collapse of part of  ;grain silos at the port of Beirut

The fire rekindled the trauma of relatives of victims of the explosion of August 4, 2020, which had killed more than 200 people.

Damaged grain silos in the port of Beirut collapsed following a fire on Sunday, four days before the second anniversary of the devastating explosion at these port facilities.

A cloud of dust blanketed the harbor after two of the 48 towers collapsed, AFP journalists have found. Army helicopters immediately flew over the area to drop water and attempt to completely extinguish the fire in the structure.

Two more towers are at risk of collapsing, said Public Works Minister Ali Hamiyé.

More than two weeks ago, a fire broke out in the most damaged part of the silos. According to authorities and experts, the fire was caused by the fermentation of remaining grain stocks, combined with high temperatures.

The fire rekindled the trauma of relatives of victims of the August 4, 2020 explosion, which left more than 200 dead and 6,500 injured and devastated entire neighborhoods of the Lebanese capital.

The explosion on August 4, 2020 was triggered in a warehouse that housed hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate stored without precautions. Hit hard by the blast of the explosion, the grain silos of the port had partially collapsed.

The flames and smoke that had been rising from the silos since the beginning of the month were still visible.

After the fire, Prime Minister Najib Mikati warned this week that part of the silos was in danger of collapsing and called on the military and the Disaster Management Directorate to be on high alert.

More than two weeks ago, a fire broke out in the most damaged part of the silos.

Some parts silos still contain some 3,000 tons of wheat and other grains that could not be removed due to danger of collapse, authorities said.

The Ministries of Environment and Health have issued recommendations for the public in the event of a silo collapse, including the need to evacuate the area , to wear masks and to close the windows of the accommodation.

In April, Lebanon had ordered the demolition of the silos, but this decision had been suspended due to the opposition from relatives of the victims of the tragedy, who want to make it a place of remembrance.

I cried when I learned that silos had collapsed, said Cécile Roukoz, who lost her brother in the explosion on August 4, 2020.

We want them to remain in place as witnesses to the crime [ …] and in memory of those who lost their lives for no reason, she added.

The investigation into the causes of the tragedy of August 4, 2020 is suspended for months due to political obstruction. Blamed for criminal negligence, the authorities are accused by the families of the victims and by NGOs of torpedoing her to avoid charges.

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