Grain silos in the port of Beirut were damaged by the explosion and finally collapsed


BEIRUT – The last precarious grain silos collapsed in Beirut’s port on Tuesday morning, two years after a deadly explosion that severely damaged buildings, which had been burning for weeks and slowly collapsing as a shocked country emerged.

There were no reports of injuries as the area was evacuated in anticipation of the collapse, but the scene of the great large dust plume emanating from the port returned to August 4, 2020, when smoke rose from a fire in the port. Tons of improperly stored ammonium nitrate exploded. The explosion killed more than 200, injured thousands and displaced thousands.

For the residents, the silos were living proof of the tragedies the Lebanese have endured for decades, as the events that shocked the country go unexplained and justice is not served.

On the anniversary of the deadly explosion, the port of Lebanon caught fire again

The silos that fell on Tuesday were the last of the structurally unsound northern block, according to Emmanuel Durand, a French civil engineer who volunteered to work alongside emergency workers to monitor the structure. Grain that had been fermenting and roasting in the sun for two years caught fire, weakening the silos and beginning the process of collapse – most recently on the second anniversary of the explosion.

In April, the Lebanese government said it had ordered the demolition of all the silos for fear that they would eventually collapse. But activists, victims’ families and engineers opposed the government’s decision, with engineers asserting that the southern bloc was still structurally sound. The families of the victims and independent lawmakers demanded that the southern part be left as a landmark until an independent investigation can be carried out.

A judicial investigation began in 2020 into responsibility for alleged official negligence that allowed 2,750 tons of highly flammable ammonium nitrate to be stored for six years on the edge of a densely populated city. The investigation has been repeatedly stalled, with judges leading investigations being drowned out in court complaints by officials accusing them of a lack of impartiality and demanding immunity from the investigation.

“When you don’t get justice, you still get hurt, you still have closure,” said environmental activist Samer Khoury, 31. “For me, this is no longer called PTSD,” PTSD, but rather CTSD – persistent stress disorder.

“Do you think this photo will change my life?”

If the silos are removed and no longer there as a monument to be seen, Khoury continued, “Somehow, you will stop thinking [the blast] Or even consider it happened.”

An independent lawmaker submitted an urgent bill to Parliament in July, aiming to designate the silos as a national heritage site. But when the bill was put to a vote, the legislative session turned to defamation and the accusation of voter fraud. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri adjourned the session.

Among the many who were named in the judicial investigations into the explosion were officials who were members of Berri’s party, the Amal Movement.

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