Beirut grain silos section collapses

01 August 2022
Deadly blast in August 2020 compromised the country’s grain storage facility

A section of Beirut’s grain silos, which survived the deadly Beirut port blast two years ago, has collapsed following weeks of fire triggered by fermented grains ignited by the summer heat.

The northern block of the silos fell in a huge cloud of dust on 31 August after what sounded like an explosion, according to eyewitnesses.

The 50-year-old silos once had a capacity of more than 100,000 tonnes and stand 48 metres high, according to a report by UK newspaper The Guardian.

It is understood a fire broke out in the northern block of the silos due to fermenting grains in July.

Firefighters and soldiers could not put out the fire, which had been smouldering for weeks.

Other parts of the silos’ northern block were at risk and sections of the giant ruin could collapse, the Washington Post reported citing Youssef Mallah from the Lebanese civil defence department.

The silos withstood the force of the explosion two years ago, shielding the western part of Beirut from the blast that killed more than 200 people and wounded more than 7,000.

Lebanon had historically kept three to four months' worth of wheat, but the Beirut port explosion in 2020 brought this figure to only a little over a month, a local media report said.

READ: Countries on edge as wheat shortage looms

On 26 July, Lebanon’s parliament ratified a $150m World Bank loan to finance wheat imports.

The loan will finance wheat imports for the next six to nine months, according to the country’s caretaker Economy Minister Amin Salam.

The loan will help alleviate shortages in subsidised bread supply. Shortfalls in wheat and flour began with the country’s economic crisis that started in 2019 and have been exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine war.

MEED understands the country imports 80 per cent of its wheat supply from Ukraine. A further 15 per cent is imported from Russia.

A wheat shortage could severely exacerbate Lebanon’s ongoing economic and political upheavals, as MEED reported in March.

Image: Twitter/Matthieu Karam

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