A fire appears to have broken out in an area near Beirut’s port, a month after a horrific blast of nearly 3000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate flattened the Lebanese capital, killing 190 people and injuring more than 6000.
Vision posted to social media today shows what appear to be large, dark plumes of smoke billowing high into the sky over the port with flames leaping metres into the air.
Panicked residents cracked open windows and called each other to warn them of the new fire.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire at the port, which was decimated by the explosion.
State-run National News Agency said the fire was at a warehouse where tires are placed. It added that firefighters are dealing with the blaze.
The Lebanese army said the fire is at a warehouse where oil and tires are placed in the duty free zone at the port adding that fighting the blaze is ongoing and that army helicopters are taking part in the operation.
A video circulating on social media showed workers at the port running away in fear as soon as the fire broke out, a chilling reminder of last month’s blast that killed dozens of port employees and 10 fire fighters.
Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud and authorities called on people to stay away from roads leading to the port to allow fire engines to move quickly.
Police spokesman Colonel Joseph Msalam said they have no information about what is happening at the port adding that the facility is currently under control of the army.
Asked about reports that the fire was caused by burning tires and oil, he said “I don’t know. It could be containers. I really don’t know what is there.”
The fire comes after a blast on August 4, caused by ammonium nitrate stored at the Port of Beirut since 2014, left nearly 300,000 people homeless, destroyed much of the surrounding area and damaged several neighbourhoods entirely.
The blast was the most destructive single incident in Lebanon’s history. Thousands of buildings, including residential homes, hospitals, schools and museums, suffered considerable damage.
The disaster caused up to USD$6.22 billion ($8.55b) in physical damages, the World Bank said last month.