Part of the silos -grain containers- of the port of BeirutThey have collapsed this Sunday a few days from the second anniversary of the massive explosion that damaged them, sending a cloud of dust over the capital and reliving the traumatic memories of the incident thatkilled them. to more than 215 people. On this occasion, no injuries have been reported.
The Lebanese authorities had already warned that part of the siloscould collapseafter the northern part began to tilt at an accelerating rate. “It was the same feeling as when the explosion happened, we remember the explosion,” said Tarek Hussein, a resident of the nearby Karantina area. , who was buying food with her son when the incident occurred. collapse. “A few large pieces fell and my son was scared when he saw it,” he explained.
For several weeks there had been a fire in the container area. According to the authorities, the fire started due to the summer heat, which ignited grains that were rotting inside since the explosion.
Fire in Beirut
The 2020 accident was caused by the ammonium nitrate stored insecurely in the port since 2013. Lebanese consider it a symbol of corruption and misgovernment by a ruling elite that has also led the country into a devastating financial collapse. The explosion, one of the most ;non-nuclear powerful s of which there is evidence, wounded the some 6,000 people and destroyed swathes of Beirut, leaving tens ofthousands homeless.Ali Hamie, transport and public works minister in the caretaker government, has told Reuters he fears more parts of the silos could collapse imminently. The Environment Minister, Nasser Yassin, has explained that, although the authorities do not know if other parts of the silos will fall, the southern part is more stable.
The silo fire has put many residents of Beirut on edge for weeks.
An aerial image shows a Lebanese army helicopter dropping water on heavily damaged grain silos in the port of the capital Beirut on July 31, 2022, after the partial collapse due to to a fire that is burning producing since the beginning of the month.
There has been controversy about what What to do with the containers damaged in the explosion. in Aprildestroy them, which infuriated to the families of the victims, who wanted them to be preserved to preserve the memory of the explosion. Last week, Parliament did not approve a law that would have protected them from demolition.
Citizens' hopes for accountability for the 2020 explosion have dimmed, strong> as the investigating judge has faced high-level political resistance, including legal complaintsfiled by the high-ranking officials whom he has attempted to question. Prime Minister Designate Najib Mikati, has said that he rejects any interference in the investigation and that he wants it to continue.
However, reflecting the distrust in the authorities, many people have said that they believed that the fire had been set intentionally or had not been deliberately contained. Divine Abojaoude,engineer and committee member representing the families of the victims, residents and experts, has said that the containers did not have to be destroyed. fall. “They were slowly leaning over and they needed support, and our whole goal was to get them to hold up,” she told Reuters. “The fire was natural and it sped things up. If the government had wanted, they could have contained the fire and reduced it, but we suspect they wanted the silos will collapse.”
Reuters was unable to immediately reach government officials for a response to the allegation that the fire may have been contained.
Earlier this month, the Economy Minister< /strong> The difficulties in extinguishing the fire, including the risk of the silos collapsing or the flames spreading as a result of the atmospheric pressure generated by the army helicopters .
Fadi Hussein, a resident of Karantina, said he believed the collapse was intentional to remove “any trace of August 4”. ” We are not worried about ourselves, but about our children, about the pollution” resulting from the collapsing of the silos, he said, noting that the power cuts strong> in the country meant he couldn't even turn on a fan at home to reduce the impact of dust.