Home / News / World /  Watch: Beirut’s giant silos collapse on 2-year anniversary of mega-blast

Wrecked by a massive explosion two years ago, a large block of Beirut’s giant port grain silos collapsed on Thursday. This happened while hundreds of protesters marched in the Lebanese capital marking the second anniversary of the tragedy and demanding justice for the victims who died in the massive explosion.

The northern block of the silos, consisting of four towers, had been slowly tilting for days before it collapsed, causing a huge cloud of dust. The silos had shielded Beirut’s western neighborhoods in the Aug. 4, 2020 explosion that killed nearly 220 people, injured over 6,000 and caused damage worth billions of dollars.

Authorities had evacuated parts of the port earlier this week — after an initial section of the silos collapsed on Sunday. On Thursday roughly a fourth of the structure collapsed around an hour before hundreds of people were to gather outside the facility to mark the 2nd anniversary of the disaster. 

Timour Azhari, Deputy Bureau Chief for Reuters in Lebanon shared the video of the cloud of dust that rose after the collapse of the silos in a tweet.

The caption to the video read, “More Beirut silos collapse as Lebanon marks two years since the blast, with a cloud of smoke and dust eerily similar to that from the explosion rising into the sky."

The 50 year-old, 48 meter (157 feet) tall silos had withstood the force of the 2020 explosion 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 as a testament to a blast they say was caused by widespread corruption and mismanagement in the small Mediterranean nation.

Sunday’s initial collapse was triggered by a weeks long fire, ignited by remnants of grains left over from the 2020 explosion. The grains had started fermenting and ignited in the summer heat.

Experts had warned of more collapses in the days to come and said the entire structure of the silos was in danger of coming down.

The anniversary came amid calls for an international investigation into the blast, one of the most destructive single incidents in Lebanon's troubled modern history. The domestic investigation 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 toward the main road outside the port. Some carried white coffins with name of some of the victims while others carried gallows demanding punishment for those responsible.

Two years on, none of the top politicians have apologized to the Lebanese. The government called for a day of mourning, leading many businesses to close.

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

With inputs from AP

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