Another significant part of the devastated Beirut Port silos collapsed on Tuesday morning in a cloud of dust. No injuries were reported — the area had been long evacuated — but the collapse marked another painful reminder of the horrific August 2020 explosion.
The collapse left the silos’ southern part standing next to a pile of charred ruins. The northern block had already been slowly tipping over since the initial explosion two years ago but rapidly deteriorated after it caught fire over a month ago due to fermenting grains.
The 50 year old, 48 meter (157 feet) tall silos had withstood the force of the explosion on Aug. 4, 2020, effectively shielding the western part of Beirut from the blast that killed over 200 people, injured more than 6,000 and badly damaged entire neighborhoods.
The country’s caretaker environment minister, Nasser Yassin, told Lebanese TV that the government will now look into how to ensure the southern block remains standing. He urged residents near the port to wear masks, and said experts would conduct air quality tests.
In April, the Lebanese government decided to demolish the silos, but suspended the decision following protests from families of the blast’s victims and survivors. They contend that the silos may contain evidence useful for the judicial probe, and that it should stand as a memorial for the 2020 tragedy.
In July, a fire broke out in the northern block of the silos due to the fermenting grains. Firefighters and Lebanese Army soldiers were unable to put it out and it smoldered for over a month. Officials had warned that the silo could collapse, but feared risking the lives of firefighters and soldiers who struggled to get too close to put out the blaze or drop containers of water from helicopters.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Hussein Malla