Port of Beirut grain silos collapse on two-year anniversary of deadly explosion

A large block of Beirut’s giant port grain silos collapsed on the second anniversary of the devastating 2020 blast

Damaged grain silos at Beirut's port collapsed in a huge plume of grey smoke on Thursday, exactly two years after a devastating explosion killed hundreds of people in Lebanon's capital.

The northern block of the silos, consisting of four towers, had been slowly tilting for days before it collapsed in front of live television cameras, causing a massive cloud of dust to be produced.

Following Thursday’s collapse, fire engines and an army helicopter sprayed the silos with water in an attempt to put out the fire.

A large section collapsed on Thursday as hundreds marched in Beirut to mark the second anniversary of the 2020 blast. Credit: AP

Emmanuel Durand, a French civil engineer who volunteered for the government-commissioned team of experts, said eight silos are still left in the northern block.

But experts have previously warned that the entire structure of the silos is in danger of coming down, as spontaneous grains have weakened the steel in the reinforced concrete.

Some of the concrete structures fell on Thursday as hundreds marched in Beirut to mark the second anniversary of the August 4 blast that killed nearly 220 people and injured more than 6,000.

ITV News Correspondent John Ray reported on the deadly blast in August 2020

"Seeing the smoke coming out – especially that I was here during the blast – triggers a very bad memory. It was the same smoke coming from the silos up to the sky," 31-year-old protester Samer al-Khoury said.

Authorities had evacuated parts of the port earlier this week - after an initial section of the silos collapsed on Sunday - as a precautionary measure. There were no reports of any injuries.

It 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.

The 50-year-old, 157 feet tall silos had withstood the force of the 2020 explosion, one of the largest non-nuclear blasts in history, that destroyed much of the port.

Relatives of victims of the deadly 2020 Beirut port explosion hold portraits of loved ones during the protests. Credit: AP

The 2020 explosion was caused by massive stores of ammonium nitrate kept at the site in the port, which had been long neglected.

Hundreds of people, including families of the victims, marched from three locations in Beirut toward the main road outside the port on Thursday.

There are calls for an international investigation of the blast as the domestic probe has been stalled since December following legal challenges by charged and accused officials against the judge leading it.

Many people have blamed the Lebanese government’s longtime corruption and mismanagement, saying it paved way for the tragedy.

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