Two years after the explosion: port silos in Beirut partially collapsed

Two years after the explosion: port silos in Beirut partially collapsed

Two years after the explosion

At the port of the Lebanese capital Beirut, grain silos, which were badly damaged at the time, partially collapsed on Sunday, almost exactly two years after the devastating explosion. Local media reported two collapsed towers in the northern section of the silos.

07/31/2022 21.21

Online since today, 21:21

Video footage showed a section of the silo collapsing, debris falling to the ground and a cloud of dust. The silo was particularly hit by the explosion in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020. The detonation occurred because ammonium nitrate fertilizer stored without protective measures had ignited.

The tall silo towers, on the other hand, shielded much of western Beirut from the effects of the blast. As a result of the accident, more than 200 people died and more than 6,500 were injured. The investigation into the circumstances of the accident was hampered for political reasons in the first few weeks. Relatives of victims and non-governmental organizations accuse the authorities of systematically hiding their possible joint responsibility.

A collapsed grain dilo in Beirut

AFP The silo towers in the port of Beirut have been on fire for two weeks

Collapse warning days ago

Lebanon’s interim prime minister Najib Mikati had already warned on Wednesday that damaged silos could collapse. The army must prepare for a collapse; Workers, civil defense officials and firefighters were instructed to keep a safe distance from the towers. Citizens must wear respirators around silos in case of collapse.

Two weeks before the partial collapse, a fire broke out in the silos after grain stored there ignited, officials said, as a result of fermentation processes favored by the summer heat. According to Mikati, about 3,000 tons of wheat and corn were still stored in the towers, but according to official information they could not be removed because that would have accelerated the collapse.

aborted demolition

In April, the Lebanese government ordered the remains of the silo to be demolished. However, work has been halted – among other things because relatives of those who died in the August 2020 explosion demanded that the ruins be preserved as a place of remembrance.

The silos at the port of Beirut had a storage capacity of over 100,000 tons before the explosion. After the accident, its 48-meter tall remains were a kind of memorial to the explosion.