The Washington Post

Part of silos damaged in 2020 blast topples

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A section of Beirut’s massive port grain silos, shredded in the 2020 explosion, collapsed in a huge cloud of dust on Sunday after a weeks-long fire, triggered by grains that had fermented and ignited in the summer heat.

The northern block of the silos toppled after what sounded like a blast. It was not clear whether anyone was injured.

The 50-year-old, 157-foot-tall silos had withstood the force of the explosion two years ago, effectivel­y shielding the western part of Beirut from the blast, which killed over 200 people, injured more than 6,000 and badly damaged entire neighborho­ods.

In July, a fire broke out in the northern block of the silos because of the fermenting grains. Firefighte­rs and soldiers were unable to put it out, and it smoldered for weeks, releasing a nasty smell that spread widely. The environmen­t and health ministries last week issued instructio­ns to residents living near the port to stay indoors in well-ventilated spaces.

The silo collapse on Sunday comes just days ahead of the second anniversar­y of 2020 blast, one of the largest explosions in Lebanon’s troubled history. It occurred less than a year after an uprising rocked the country, with hundreds of thousands protesting entrenched sectarian political parties. The blast also precipitat­ed Lebanon’s economic crisis, costing billions of dollars in damage and destroying thousands of tons of grain.

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