For 3rd time in a month, blast-damaged silos at Beirut port collapse
Fire burns inside silos as grain contents ferment under August sun; surviving southern block is more stable and not at risk of crumbling
BEIRUT, Lebanon — 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, said French civil engineer Emmanuel Durand, who has installed sensors on the silos.
The silos absorbed much of the impact of the massive explosion of haphazardly stored ammonium nitrate fertilizer that killed more than 200 people on August 4, 2020.
Other silos already collapsed on July 31 and August 4.
A fire has been burning in the silos for more than a month as remaining grain stocks ferment in the summer heat.
#lebanon #beirut port silos northen block collapsed this norning pic.twitter.com/WJjyovigzQ
— Hassan Ammar (@HassanAmmar5) August 23, 2022
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 (270,000 square feet) of the port to build new grain silos.
This is larger than the current complex, which occupies a space of 21,000 square meters (226,000 square feet).
Hamieh said funding would come from international donors as well as the government, which has been bankrupted by a crushing financial crisis.