Grain silos in Beirut port collapse after fire

Grain silos in Beirut port collapse after fire

Published on: 07/31/2022 – 20:23

Damaged grain elevators at the port of the Lebanese capital collapsed after a fire this Sunday, July 31, four days before the second anniversary of the devastating explosion at that port.

The two towers collapsed with a tremendous crash, drowning the port of Beirut in a cloud of dust. Army helicopters immediately flew over the area to drop water and attempt to completely extinguish the fire in the structure. This Sunday evening, the Minister of Public Transport, Ali HamiyƩ, pointed out that two more silos were in danger of collapsing.

Lebanese authorities warned last week that part of the silos could collapse if the northern part of the facility began to tip over. A fire had been smoldering in the silos for weeks. Authorities say the summer heat ignited fermenting grain, which has since been rotting inside the explosion that occurred on August 4, 2020which claimed more than 200 lives and injured 6,500 and devastated entire districts of the Lebanese capital.

The port’s grain silos were badly hit by the blast from the blast and partially collapsed. Some parts still contain about 3,000 tons of wheat and other grains that could not be removed due to the risk of collapse, authorities said. In April, Lebanon ordered the demolition of the silos, but the decision was suspended due to opposition from relatives of the victims of the tragedy, who want to turn it into a place of remembrance.

lack of bread

This damage significantly reduced the country’s storage capacity, which also imported 80% of its flour needs from Ukraine. As a result, Lebanon is now facing a serious bread shortage. At dawn, queues form in front of the few bakeries that are still being supplied. Lebanese have to wait for hours in the scorching heat to get a packet of bread, and tensions are escalating between tense and weary customers. On Tuesday, too, the army had to intervene in a bakery in Taalbaya in the east of the country, which was stormed and vandalized by angry customers.

This ordeal has now lasted for two weeks and despite promises from the authorities to improve the situation, the situation continues to deteriorate. Wheat is one of the few raw materials that has been subsidized by the state ever since crisis unprecedented crisis which, according to international organizations, has plunged more than 80% of the population into poverty.

The devaluation of the Lebanese pound, which has lost 90% of its value against the dollar, and the exhaustion of flour stocks have favored the development of the black market, reports our correspondent in Beirut. Paul Khalifeh. The pack of six traditional loaves is sold on the parallel market for two and a half times its price. The recent seizure of a shipment of 5,000 tons of wheat under the pretext that it was “stolen” from Ukraine, provoked the anger of the population.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs accuses some bakeries of hoarding the subsidized flour or using it to manufacture unsubsidized products. The bakeries accuse the central bank of not opening up enough credit lines for imports. To ensure supplies, Parliament on Tuesday approved a $150 million loan from the World Bank (WB) to finance wheat imports.

(And with agencies)