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Beirut’s blast-damaged grain elevators partially collapse

#Beiruts #blastdamaged #grain #elevators #partially #collapse

Parts of Beirut’s grain elevators collapsed on Sunday, just days before the second anniversary of a catastrophic explosion at the Lebanese capital’s port that devastated businesses and parts of the city.

AFP correspondents said a cloud of dust covered the port after the partial collapse of silos, where a fire has been burning for more than two weeks.

Army helicopters doused the area with water to try to put out the fire.

“Two towers have collapsed so far and two more are in danger of collapsing,” said Public Works Minister Ali Hamieh of the northern part of AFP’s badly damaged silos.

The silo complex had absorbed much of the impact of the August 4, 2020 port mega-explosion that killed more than 200 people and injured over 6,500.

The silos shielded much of the west of the city from the devastating effects of the explosion, which was caused by haphazardly stored ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which caught fire.

Sunday’s partial collapse came after fires broke out in the silos earlier this month, which authorities said were caused by fermentation of remaining grain stocks along with rising summer temperatures.

Lebanon’s incumbent prime minister warned this week that they could fall.

“The northern group of silos is now in danger of falling,” Najib Mikati said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that the silos still contained thousands of tons of wheat and corn.

He urged the army to be prepared and warned workers, civil defense members and firefighters to keep a safe distance from the site.

An imposing 48-meter (157-foot) tall remnant of the silos that once held more than 100,000 tons has become a symbol of the catastrophic port explosion.

The government ordered their demolition in April for safety reasons, but that move was put on hold due to objections, including from relatives of victims of the blast, who want the silos to remain as a memorial.

“I cried when I found out they collapsed,” Cecile Roukoz, who lost her brother in the blast, told AFP.

“We want some of them to remain as witnesses to the crime, as a collective memory of the city, and in memory of those who lost their lives for no reason.”

The Lebanese investigation into the blast has faced systematic and blatant political obstruction from day one.

Authorities could not unload around 3,000 tons of wheat and corn stuck in the silos as it could hasten their collapse, this week’s statement said.

The environment and health ministries had advised the public to evacuate the port area and wear masks near the silos if they collapsed.

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#Beiruts #blastdamaged #grain #elevators #partially #collapse

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