Parts of damaged port silos collapse on Beirut Blast anniversary
On August 4, the day parts of Beirut turned to ashes two years ago, the only standing landmark - grain silos - bearing witness to that day's atrocious incident is crumbling down.
Several more grain silos damaged by the 2020 Beirut port explosion collapsed Thursday, as hundreds marched toward them to mark the second anniversary of the disaster, which destroyed the city and killed over 200, and injured more than 6,500.
AFP correspondents saw parts of the gutted structure fall down, while local media said at least four towers had collapsed, only days after a similar incident.
Experts had been warning for days that the silos could collapse imminently after recording unprecedented inclination rates.
Beirut's grain silos partially collapse after burning for 2 weeks
On Sunday, Beirut port's grain silos partially collapsed. Clouds of dust covered the port area as the silos collapsed - local media reported that 2 towers from the northern section of the silos fell, knowing that a fire has been burning there for more than 2 weeks.
The Minister of Public Works and Transport in the Lebanese caretaker government, Ali Hamie, said that two silos had collapsed from the northern side. The total number of grain silos is 40, and the minister said he expected most of the silos to collapse.
Hamie pointed out that the collapse of the two silos today was "expected according to government technical reports," and he also suggested that "most of the other silos" would collapse in succession.
The Lebanese Minister told Al Mayadeen that the army is using helicopters to extinguish the collapsed silos, adding that there is no fear of toxic emissions, explaining that the government is about to "assign technical committees to examine the silos again."
Hamie said the silos structure building is no longer considered a crime scene as per a judicial decision, stressing, "We are determined to rebuild it."
Much of the explosion's impact was absorbed by the structure on August 4, 2020. The explosion, two years back, was caused by tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizers catching fire.
Two weeks ago, a fire erupted in the northern part of the silos due to the fermentation of the remaining grain stocks, exacerbated by scorching weather temperatures, according to authorities.
Najib Mikati, Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister, had warned that the silos would soon fall.
He warned workers, civil defense members, and firefighters to keep their distance from the location while keeping the army on alert.
The silos, which hold a capacity of over 100,000 tons, have become a symbol of the Beirut explosion.
In April, the Lebanese government ordered that the premises be demolished, however, it was suspended due to objections, especially from the families of the victims who demand turning the silos into a memorial site of the catastrophe.
The authorities were not able to extract the 3,000 tons of wheat and corn that were stuck in the silos, since the move would probably accelerate the collapse.
The ministries of environment and health warned the public to evacuate the port area and wear masks in case the silos collapse.
Hezbollah calls for depoliticized investigation in Beirut blast
Earlier today, Hezbollah expressed once again its condolences to "the families of all martyrs, Christians, and Muslims, Lebanese and non-Lebanese," as well as the wounded and their families, most notably those who are still in hospitals, on the second anniversary of the tragic explosion at the port of Beirut.
In a statement, Hezbollah reaffirmed its stance, calling for a just investigation into the Beirut port blast which is based on legal principles and away from any political and sectarian bias.