Massive Fire Erupts in Beirut Port a Month After Port Explosions
14th September 2020
A massive explosion occurred at the ports of Beirut on 10th September 2020, only a month after huge explosions killed more than 190 people living at the port.
Lebanese officials have informed Reuters that although some suffered shortness of breath, no one was injured. The Hindu reported that the blaze began at the shattered duty-free zone of the port, causing many of the residents who were still traumatised by last month's blast to leave the city.
According to Reuters, army helicopters dropped water as firefighters battled on the ground to bring the blaze under control. Lebanese officials told the same agency that by nightfall most of the flames had been extinguished.
Michel Najjar—the Public Works Minister with the outgoing government—told the local media outlets that initial indications suggest that the fire might have started due to ongoing repair work at the port. However, he added that the complete details of the cause would not be apparent until a comprehensive study is performed.
During a meeting with top officials, Lebanese President Michel Aoun informed BBC that the fire could have been a result of sabotage, a technical error, or negligence. "In all cases, the cause must be known as soon as possible, and the perpetrators held to account,” Mr Aoun was quoted as saying by the presidential Twitter account.
Red Cross Regional Director Fabrizio Carboni told BBC that the warehouse had stored thousands of food packets. Additionally, he emphasized that their humanitarian operation was now at risk of 'serious disruption'.
“For sure, we were scared... It's only been a month since the explosion that destroyed Beirut. We saw the same thing happening again,” 53-year-old Andre Muarbes informed BBC. Another citizen shared with Reuters news agency that he was forced to take his wife and two children out of the capital due to the fire and the smoke from the blast.
Carmen Geha, an activist and assistant professor at the American University of Beirut, told Reuters that the fire was further evidence of mishandling by the ruling elite. According to her, they have dragged the nation into crisis after years of corruption and poor governance. "It's a gross crime, gross negligence and gross arrogance," she added.
(Sources: BBC, Reuters, The Hindu)
Edited by Nayana Dhanya