A fire that erupted in the port of the Lebanese capital on Thursday, just a month after a major explosion on Thursday, spewed up the thick smoke of the city.
Videos and images posted online show flames within a column of black smoke in the same area where about 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded in August. 4. Other images captured tornado-like smoke swings, rising high into the sky before exiting across the city where it hung in a cloud.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire.
However, the director general of the Port of Beirut told the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation that there was an explosion in the building of a company that imports frying oil. It then spread to rubber tires, he said.
The governor of Beirut asked residents to evacuate the streets and live on LBC warning that their lives were in danger and they risked disrupting the firebreak.
Meanwhile, efforts were on to extinguish the blast and army helicopters would participate, a Lebanese army spokesman also told the broadcaster. Pictures show firefighters battling the explosion.
News of the fire started circulating on social media shortly after local time (6 pm). Three hours later, the Director General of Civil Security, Brig. General Raymond Khattar told the LBC that the fire had been confined, but the explosion still needed to be extinguished at that time.
191 people were killed and 6,000 others were injured after the massive explosion. It was considered one of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever.
A video circulated on social media showed the workers rushing to the port as fire broke out behind them. Slogans of “Let’s go, let’s go” can be heard in Arabic.
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The incident will likely trigger painful memories of last month’s explosion for people working in the port as well as emergency responders. Ten firefighters were killed in the August explosion.
Michelle L. Mauchi, 39, who was less than a mile from the fire described to NBC News that what appeared to be falling from the sky.
He said that his face mask had worn him to protect himself from coronovirus, which served as a shield against the debris.
“The sky is dark over us,” he said calling from the city.
El Mauchi said that one of the problems now in emergency situations was that it was difficult to know who or what to trust.
“When you lose trust in the government, you know what we can do?” he said.
Lebanon was already wavering under the weight of a spirited economic crisis when last month’s explosion devastated the city of Beirut, killing dozens and leaving thousands homeless.
In the wake of the explosion, public anger once again boiled over, triggering the government’s downfall that chronic mismanagement and numerous allegations of corruption that are widely believed to have been capable of leading to the explosion in the first place.
Najat Saliba, a professor specializing in atmospheric chemistry, Warn In Beirut the elderly and children have to escape the smoke or even leave the city to protect themselves.
Many Beirut residents will worry that the chemical may be in the rubble of the port where the fire was. Last week, the Lebanese army found more than 4 tons of ammonium nitrate in four containers near the port and said army experts were “working with the material.”
Matthew Mulligan has contributed.