Part of Beirut’s port silos collapse on second anniversary of massive explosion

4 August 2022, 16:14

Lebanon Silos
Lebanon Silos. Picture: PA

The northern block of the silos consisting of four towers had been slowly tilting for days.

A large section of Beirut’s giant port grain silos, which were shredded by a massive explosion two years ago, have collapsed as hundreds marched in the city to mark the second anniversary of the blast that killed nearly 220 people.

The northern block of the silos consisting of four towers had been slowly tilting for days and collapsed, causing a huge cloud of dust that covered the structure that shielded Beirut’s western neighbourhoods when the blast occurred on August 4 2020.

The explosion also injured more than 6,000 people and caused damage worth billions of pounds.

Thursday’s collapse of roughly a quarter of the structure occurred an hour before hundreds of people were to gather outside the facility to mark the second anniversary of the blast.

Lebanon Silos
Part of the silos collapses (Hussein Malla/AP)

Authorities 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, 157ft tall silos had withstood the force of the explosion two years ago 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 to witness the result of one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, caused by widespread corruption and mismanagement in the small Mediterranean nation.

The domestic investigation into the blast has been stalled since December following legal challenges by charged and accused officials against the judge leading the investigation.

Hundreds of people, including families of the victims, marched from three locations in Beirut towards the main road outside the port to mark the blast on Thursday. Some carried white coffins while others carried gallows demanding punishment for those responsible.

Lebanon Silos
Smoke rises from part of the collapsed silos (Hussein Malla/AP)

“Two years later the pain is still the same,” said one of the family members whose brother was killed.

Two years on, none of the country’s top politicians have apologised to the Lebanese.

Tarek Bitar, the judge leading the Lebanese investigation, had charged four former senior government officials with intentional killing and negligence that led to the deaths of scores of people. He also charged several senior security officials in the case.

But none of them have been detained and two of those charged were re-elected to parliament in May.

“There is no justice under the rule of militia and mafia,” read one banner carried during Thursday’s march — an apparent reference to the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group that has been calling for the removal of Mr Bitar, who it describes as biased.

Lebanon Silos
Smoke and dust rise over the city (Hussein Malla/AP)

Many have blamed the Lebanese government’s longtime corruption and mismanagement, saying it paved way for the tragedy, when hundreds of tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate detonated at the port.

“The state has no right to abstain from the Lebanese investigation and also prevent an international investigation,” said Cardinal Bechara Rai, the head of the Maronite Catholic church, Lebanon’s largest, during prayers on Thursday for the victims.

Official correspondence between political, security and judicial officials has revealed that many were aware of the hazardous substances stored in the port, without taking meaningful action to remove them.

After the blast, port, customs and legal documents revealed that the ammonium nitrate had been shipped to Lebanon in 2013 on a worn-out Russian ship and stored improperly at a port warehouse ever since.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

A military fighter jet flies above the Taiwan Strait

Taiwan warns China drills show ambitions beyond island

A Ukrainian serviceman walks on a street at the frontline in Mykolaiv region, Ukraine

Ukraine: Shelling hits town near Russian-held nuclear plant

South Korea Weather

Nine dead in Seoul after torrential rain turns streets into rivers

The Beluga whale in the Seine river (Sea Shepherd via AP)

Rescuers to move whale stranded in French river to saltwater

Election 2022 Wisconsin Governor

Trump’s home in Florida searched by FBI ‘in White House records probe’

Israel Palestinians

Three dead and dozens injured after arrest operation by Israeli troops

Issey Miyake

Famed Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake dies aged 84

Kenya Election

Voting under way in Kenya’s presidential election

Japan Nagasaki Anniversary

Nagasaki mayor warns of ‘present nuclear crisis’ on anniversary of US bombing

Former President Donald Trump delivers the final remarks during Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, on Saturday, August 6, 2022

Former president Donald Trump says FBI conducting search of Mar-a-Lago estate

Film-Lars von Trier-Parkinson’s

Dancer in the Dark director Lars von Trier diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease

Trident test

Russia halts US inspections of its nuclear arsenals

Ahmaud Arbery Hate Crimes

Father and son get life sentences for hate crime over black jogger’s murder

Russia Ukraine War

Russia and Ukraine trade claims over shelling of nuclear power station again

France Heat

France faces worst drought on record as fourth heatwave of the year spreads

Palestinians Israel

Gaza power plant restarts as Israel-Palestinian truce holds