Fire at Beirut port month after blast that killed 190
A massive fire broke out at the port of Beirut in Lebanon on Thursday, a month after a deadly explosion jolted the city. It was not immediately clear what caused the fire. The site had been devastated by an explosion on August 4, which left 190 dead and thousands injured. The incident has sparked alarm among the residents still reeling from the August blast.
The Lebanese Army said that the fire erupted at a warehouse storing oils and tires in the port's Duty-Free area. Thick black columns of smoke were seen emerging from the site of the blaze. According to local reports, clearance efforts were underway at the port to remove debris from last month's explosion. However, a cause behind the incident is yet to be established.
Firefighting efforts are underway to extinguish the flames. The Lebanese Army said its helicopters will also participate in the efforts to douse the flames. Lieutenant Michel Murr, who oversees firefighting efforts in Beirut, told Al Jazeera that there were no injuries from the fire. The fire had not been contained as of 2:30 pm local time (5:00 pm IST).
A witness told the publication that she saw people running away from the fire as a dark plume of smoke consumed the sky. She said she also saw cars reversing in the city's Mar Mikhael neighborhood.
Visuals from the scene went viral on social media. Human Rights Watch researcher Aya Majzoub wrote on Twitter, "Insane fire at the port, causing panic all across Beirut. We just can't catch a break." Human rights researcher Omar Nashabe tweeted, "This is the scene of the crime a month ago! Where is the judiciary? Where is the state? Where is responsibility?"
The explosion on August 4 had been caused by hundreds of tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. The explosion killed 190 people, injured about 6,500, and damaged thousands of buildings. A smaller fire had been spotted at the port on Tuesday. A few days before that, the army said it had cleared 4.35 tonnes of ammonium nitrate from the site.