A part of the silos -grain containers- from the port of Beirut 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 reviving the traumatic memories of the incident that killed more than 215 people. On this occasion, no injuries have been reported.
The Lebanese authorities had already warned that part of the silos could collapse after the northern part began to tilt at an accelerating rate. “It was the same feeling as when the explosion happened, we remember the explosion“, has said Tarek Hussein, a resident of the nearby Karantina area, who was shopping for food with her son when the collapse occurred. “A few big pieces fell out and my son freaked out when he saw it,” he explained.
For several weeks there was a fire in the container area. According to the authorities, the fire started due to the summer heat, which ignited the grains that were rotting inside since the explosion.
Fire in Beirut
The 2020 accident was caused by the ammonium nitrate insecurely stored at the port since 2013. The Lebanese consider it a symbol of corruption and bad government of a ruling elite that has also led the country into a devastating financial collapse. The explosion, one of the most powerful non-nuclear of which there is evidence, injured some 6,000 people and tore apart swaths of Beirut, leaving dozens of thousands of homeless people.ali hamie, transport and public works minister in the caretaker government, told Reuters he fears more parts of the silos could collapse imminently. The Environment Minister, Nasser Yassin, He 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 for weeks.
There has been controversy over what to do with the containers damaged in the explosion. The government decided in April destroy them, which infuriated the families of the victims, who they wanted them preserved to preserve the memory of the explosion. Last week, Parliament he failed to pass a law that would have protected them from demolition.
The hopes of the citizens that accountable for the explosion of 2020 have diminished, since the investigating judge has faced a high level political resistance including the legal complaints submitted by the high-ranking officials whom he has tried to interrogate. The Prime Minister Designate, Najib Mikatihas said that he rejects any interference in the investigation and wants it to run its course.
However, reflecting the distrust in the authorities, many people have said they believed the fire had started intentionally or was not deliberately contained. Divine Abojaoude, an engineer and a member of a committee representing the families of the victims, residents and experts, has said that the containers did not have to 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 sped things up. If the government had wanted, could have contained the fire and reduced it, but we have suspicions that they wanted the silos to 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 cited 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 army helicopters.
Fadi Husseina 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, because the contamination” resulting from the collapse of the silos, he said, noting that the cpower outages in the country meant he couldn’t even turn on a fan at home to reduce the impact of dust.