Eight grain silos topple

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AFP) — Eight more grain silos at Beirut port toppled Tuesday, succumbing to damage from a devastating 2020 explosion in the third such collapse in a month, AFP correspondents reported.

A cloud of dust rose over the port after the collapse, which brought down the last of the northern block of silos that was more heavily damaged in the blast and where a fire had been burning since July.

The remaining southern block is more stable and not at imminent risk of collapse, French civil engineer Emmanuel Durand, who has installed sensors on the silos, said.

The silos absorbed much of the impact of the massive explosion of haphazardly stored ammonium nitrate fertilizer that killed more than 200 people on 4 August 2020.

Other silos already collapsed on 31 July and 4 August.

A fire has been burning in the silos for more than a month as remaining grain stocks ferment in the summer heat.

In April, the government ordered the silos’ demolition but the operation was put on hold, partly because of objections from relatives of blast victims who want them preserved as a memorial.

Public Works Minister Ali Hamieh announced last week that the government had agreed to reserve 25,000 square meters of the port to build new grain silos.

This is larger than the current complex which occupies a space of 21,000 square meters.

Hamieh said funding would come from international donors as well as the government, which has been bankrupted by a crushing financial crisis.

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