BEIRUT — Families of the victims of the 2020 Beirut port explosion organized a sit-in Thursday at the Beirut port to peacefully protest the authorities’ inaction in the face of the fire burning at the port’s silos, the state-run National News Agency reported.
Here’s what we know:
• The families and other protesters stood next to the port’s gate nine where they raised pictures of the victims and banners calling on authorities to start extinguishing the fire at the port and protecting the silos’ southern block.
• Experts have said that the fire, which has been ablaze for over a month, is caused by the exposure of fermented wheat, stored in and around the silos, to heat.
• Families of the victims had also warned that if by 12 p.m., rescue teams did not start putting the fire out, they would close off the port’s gate nine.
• Speaking to L’Orient Today, Mohamad Abiad, senior advisor to caretaker Environment Minister Nasser Yassin, said that the first phase of an operation to remove the fermented grains at the silos should commence Thursday at 1 p.m. It will consist of cooling of the left-over grains which Abiad said have reached a temperature of up to 450 degrees Celsius. This part of the process will be handled by the Karantina fire brigade and will take more than a week, he said.
• Families of the victims blocked the highway near the Statue of the Emigrant in front of the port silos on Tuesday evening, after the collapse of the last remaining silos in the structure’s northern block earlier in the day, demanding the fire be extinguished, the investigation into the blast to be resumed, and the silos’ southern section be preserved.