BEIRUT (AP) – A large block of Beirut’s giant port grain silos, shredded by a massive explosion two years ago, collapsed on Thursday as hundreds marched in the Lebanese capital to mark the second anniversary of the blast that killed scores.
The northern block of the silos, consisting of four towers, had been slowly tilting for days before it collapsed, causing a huge cloud of dust. The silos had shielded Beirut’s western neighbourhoods in the August 4, 2020 explosion that killed nearly 220 people, injured over 6,000 and caused damage worth billions of dollars.
Thursday’s collapse of roughly a fourth of the structure occurred an hour before hundreds of people were to gather outside the facility to mark the 2nd anniversary of the disaster.
Authorities had evacuated parts of the port earlier this week – after an initial section of the silos collapsed on Sunday – as a precautionary measure and there was no indication that anyone was hurt.
The 50 year-old, 48-metre-tall silos had withstood the force of the 2020 explosion that destroyed much of the port.
Many in Lebanon, including families of the victims, have been demanding that the silos be kept for future generations as a testament to a blast they said was caused by widespread corruption and mismanagement in the small Mediterranean nation.
Sunday’s initial collapse was triggered by a weeks-long fire, caused by remnants of grains left over from the 2020 explosion that started fermenting and ignited in the summer heat last month.
Firefighters and Lebanese Army soldiers were unable to put it out and it smoldered, a nasty smell spreading around.