At the port of Beirut, a major fire in a warehouse

View of the site where the fire broke out in the Beirut port area on September 10.

A major fire broke out on Thursday, September 10, in a warehouse in the port of Beirut, sowing panic among Beirutis still in shock from the deadly and devastating explosion that traumatized the Lebanese capital five weeks ago.

Nearly five hours after the intervention of civil defense and army helicopters to fight the flames, the fire was still burning in the late afternoon after having spread to a second hangar.

According to “Preliminary information”, “Repairs” were carried out on site with an electric saw, whose ” Sparks “ trained “The outbreak of a fire”, announced in a press release the Minister of Transport and Public Works, Michel Najjar.

Justifying the duration of the operations, the head of civil defense, Raymond Khattar, explained that “Flammable materials such as rubber and oils” required “Time to be completely extinguished”.

The fire hit a warehouse where motor oil and car wheels are stored, the Lebanese military said in a statement, calling on residents to leave surrounding neighborhoods. Thick columns of black smoke are visible from several areas of the city, as shown in a video posted on Twitter by the Lebanese daily L’Orient-Le Jour.

The fire broke out in the port’s free zone, where tires and edible oils were stored by an importing company, the port’s acting director, Bassem Al-Kaissi, told a local television channel. The fire “Started with the cans of oil before spreading to the tires”, he added. “It is either because of the heat or of an error, it is still too early to know”, said Mr. Al-Kaissi.

Clotilde Bigot is a journalist in Beirut.

This is the second fire in a few days in the port. On Wednesday, mounds of garbage, wood and tires had already caught fire. Fearing a disaster scenario, port employees and residents of surrounding neighborhoods deserted the scene Thursday. On social networks, Internet users saw in Thursday’s fire new proof of the negligence of the political class, accused of corruption and incompetence, contested by the street and already held responsible for the tragedy of August 4.

The prosecution ordered the opening of an investigation. The President, Michel Aoun, called a meeting of the Supreme Defense Council in the early evening.

The double explosion of August 4 killed more than 190 people and left more than 6,500 injured, devastating entire districts of the capital. A Lebanese examining magistrate, Fadi Sawan, was charged with the investigation by the Lebanese authorities, who however did not follow up on appeals for international proceedings.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Lebanon: one month after the explosion at the port of Beirut, the investigation points to the negligence of the authorities

The World with AFP


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