The Beirut Port explosion took place on 4 August, 2020, after tonnes of ammonium nitrate unsafely stored in the facility since 2013 exploded.
Part of the remaining grain silos at the Beirut Port collapsed on Sunday, just days ahead of the two-year-mark of the tragic explosion, triggering horrific memories for locals in the capital.
Beirut witnessed plumes of smoke rising from the port, recreating the horrific scene of the 2020 blast, where more than 200 people were killed.
“It was the same feeling as when the blast happened, we remembered the explosion,” Tarek Hussein, a resident of nearby Karantina area, told Reuters.
Lebanese officials had earlier warned of the collapse after the northern area began tilting, with fires being reported at the port in the past two weeks. Authorities had said the scorching summer heat caused the fires, lighting up remaining grains.
According to Reuters, there are no injuries reported from the partial collapse as of now.
Despite this, the Lebanese public expressed outrage at the latest development on social media.
“Triggering in so many ways. As we approach the second ‘anniversary’ of the Beirut blast that almost killed us all – and killed/injured many others, here we are, witnessing the partial collapse of the grain Silos,” tweeted Lebanese journalist Luna Safwan.
Meanwhile, Lebanese media relations professional Dany Hajjar tweeted: “And here I was, so worried that people would mark two years since the blast in Beirut by sharing a video of it and triggering everyone’s trauma.
“Instead, Lebanon now has a fresh new video of the silos collapsing today thanks to the government’s apathy. Amazing,” added Hajjar.
The Beirut Port explosion rocked the capital on 4 August 2020 after tonnes of ammonium nitrate that was unsafely stored at the facility since 2013 exploded. The non-nuclear blast was among the most powerful of its kind.
The remaining damaged silos have served as a reminder of the tragedy, with families of the victims protesting an April decision to completely destroy them. According to Reuters, the Lebanese parliament has yet to adopt a law ensuring their protection from demolition.
While Lebanon’s caretaker Minister of Transport and Public Works Ali Hamie told Reuters that more parts of the silos could collapse, Environment Minister Nasser Yassin assured the southern parts are stable.
The explosion, together with the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, forced a high portion of the Lebanese population into poverty. The country is currently grappling with its worst economic crisis in years, with the Lebanese currency losing roughly 90% of its value to the US dollar.
However, Lebanon has already been facing a grain crisis, with queues of people waiting for bread becoming a common scene.
Talks with Qatar
On Wednesday, Beirut’s caretaker economy minister, Amin Salam told the Associated Press (AP) that he is scheduled to discuss with Qatar its plans to build two new grain silos in Beirut.
Salam told the AP that countries including the US, Germany, the UAE and France already expressed their interest in the $100 million project.
Despite billions of aid sent to Lebanon to alleviate conditions in the aftermath of the blast, it has yet to financially recover. Qatar was the first country to offer direct support for Lebanon, pledging more than $70 million in donations.
The country is also facing a fuel shortage and an electricity crisis that has left most of the population receiving limited power access.
Lebanon’s state electricity company Electricité du Liban (EDL) has accumulated $40 billion of debt, roughly 43% of government debt, since 1992, according to Energy for Growth Hub.