Aug 4, 2022 - World

Beirut port silos collapse as Lebanon marks 2nd anniversary of blast

A general view of the grain silo that collapsed before the commemoration ceremony
A general view of the grain silo that collapsed in Beirut on Aug. 4. Photo: Hussam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Several grain silos that were damaged exactly two years ago in a deadly explosion at Beirut's port collapsed on Thursday, as Lebanon marked the second anniversary of the blast.

The big picture: Smoke billowing from the collapsed silos were reminiscent of the scenes following the 2020 explosion that killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands and left roughly 250,000 homeless.

  • "Seeing the smoke coming out – especially that I was here during the blast – triggers a very bad memory. It was the same smoke coming from the silos up to the sky," 31-year-old protester Samer al-Khoury told Reuters Thursday.
  • Thursday's collapse happened about an hour before people were expected to gather to mark the second anniversary of the port blast, per AP.
  • The area had been evacuated earlier this week after another portion of the silos collapsed. There were no immediate reports of injuries on Thursday.

State of play: Thousands marched through the city later Thursday to renew their demands for accountability and justice over the explosion, which was caused by ammonium nitrate that had been improperly stored at the port since 2013.

  • An investigation into the blast has been paused for months due in part to legal challenges.
  • The judge in charge of the probe has accused several current and former government officials of being responsible for the explosion, but no arrests have been made.
Families of those killed in the blast march in Beirut.
Families of those killed in the 2020 blast march in Beirut. Photo: Marwan Naamani/picture alliance via Getty Images

What they're saying: Families of the victims and others have called for an external investigation.

  • “The state has no right to abstain from the Lebanese investigation and also prevent an international investigation,” Cardinal Bechara Rai, the head of the Maronite Catholic church in Lebanon, said during prayers Thursday for the victims, per AP.
  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres echoed the call on Twitter, saying it's been "two years without justice. In the name of the dead, among them the son of a UN staff member, I reiterate my call for an impartial, thorough and transparent investigation into the explosion."
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