New disaster in Beirut. Four people perished Friday evening October 9 in a fire and explosion that hit a fuel warehouse in a densely populated area of the Lebanese capital, again sowing panic after a series of fires and the deadly blast of August 4 at the port.
The tragedy of Friday evening left several injured, cases of suffocation but also three children suffering from burns, according to a medical source of the hospital which received them.
A man arrested
Lieutenant Ali Najm, of the Beirut fire brigade, spoke of a fire and an explosion in a warehouse where there was a “tank of fuel oil” in the district of Tariq al-Jdidé, telling Agence France-Presse that the causes were not yet known. The flames took in an underground room where there was also gasoline, according to a security source. The owner was arrested, according to the source. It runs one of those private generator services that provide electricity to residents during daily blackouts in Lebanon, according to the source.
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“Tariq al-Jdidé explosion: the number of victims has risen to four,” the Lebanese Red Cross said on its Twitter account. Its secretary general Georges Kettané also reported “wounded taken to hospital”, according to the National News Agency ANI.
In a country with failing public services, hit for a year by an unprecedented economic crisis, Friday’s incident is the latest in a black series that has hit Lebanon for two months.
“We feared such an accident”
Lebanese television Al-Jadeed, which speaks of more than 30 injured on Friday evening, showed flames in an alleyway and then images where screams could be heard from panicked residents of the area. Firefighters, using sliding ladders, evacuated the residents of the building and neighboring homes, while gray smoke was still visible, according to images broadcast by the channel.
In recent weeks, the Beirut municipality has been hunting down warehouses that could be in violation or pose a danger to residential areas, its governor Marwan Aboud told Al-Jadeed. “We feared that such an accident would happen”, he lamented, adding that around a hundred sites had been identified. “We closed a part, and on the others we imposed procedures to guarantee public safety.”
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In Lebanon, private generator services abound across the country, sometimes accused of being a veritable mafia taking advantage of electricity shortages, which for decades have forced residents to resort to a subscription to cope with daily power cuts. .
Lebanon experienced a deadly and devastating explosion on August 4 at the port of Beirut, which deeply traumatized the country. The tragedy left 203 dead and 6,500 injured, according to the government’s latest report, devastating entire districts of the capital. Much of the angry public opinion accuses the leaders and politicians, almost unchanged for decades, of being also responsible for the tragedy, by their corruption and their incompetence.
Since then, several fires have broken out in Beirut – including a spectacular fire at the port on September 10.