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Lebanon Cabinet Approves Demolition of Damaged Port Silos

Lebanon Cabinet Approves Demolition of Damaged Port Silos

Thursday, 14 April, 2022 - 14:00
A member of Lebanese army walks past the rubble at the site of the blast in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 7, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Lebanon's cabinet on Thursday approved the demolition of the Beirut silos damaged in the August 2020 port blast which left at least 215 people dead, Lebanese Information Minister Ziad Makari said in televised comments after a cabinet session.

Makari said the decision was based on a "technical report" that concluded the silos could collapse in the coming months, adding it would be too expensive to renovate them.

Families of victims have called for the gutted grain silos to remain in place as a memorial, at least until a stalled probe into the chemical explosion can conclude.

The investigation into the blast, one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded, has faced pushback from senior politicians who have refused to be interrogated.

The explosion was triggered by the detonation of hundreds of tons of improperly stored ammonium nitrates in a port warehouse.

Makari said that Lebanon's interior and culture ministers had been tasked with overseeing the creation of a separate memorial for the blast.

Culture Minister Mohamed Mortada previously told Reuters the government had decided to demolish the silos and rebuild new ones based on a "purely economic assessment" of Lebanon's food security needs.

Lebanon needs more wheat storage to cope with global grains shortages resulting from the Russian war in Ukraine, from where Lebanon imports most of its wheat, officials say.

Following Thursday's news, families of the victims called for a protest near the port.

The massive, 48-meter-high silos absorbed much of the explosion’s impact, effectively shielding the western part of the city from the blast that damaged or completely destroyed thousands of buildings.

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