BEIRUT — Three electricity network pylons have collapsed in the Makneh region of the Bekaa, the state-owned Electricité Du Liban (EDL) said in a statement on Monday, after thefts of metal rivets.
Two other network pylons are in danger of collapsing in the area, threatening the electricity supply.
EDL technical teams discovered main high-voltage pylons were vandalized on the outskirts of Makneh during a periodic infrastructure control tour, according to the statement.
The vandalism "led to the collapse of three of the towers ... on the main Deir Nabouh-Baalbeck transmission line. Towers 16 and 17 are also at risk of falling at any time," the statement added.
This is not the first time metal parts have been stolen from electricity towers, according to EDL.
"EDL had previously repaired [the towers] and welded rivets to prevent theft, but this time the thieves shot at the equipment with all-terrain vehicles or trucks, causing them to fall," said EDL. As a result, "the supply of electricity in the areas ... of Labweh and Hermel is at risk."
The region is now supplied by only one source, the Baalbeck power station, whose main transmission line was also vandalized, according to the EDL statement. This poses the risk of "completely isolating the northern Bekaa from the network."
EDL estimated that the material losses caused by the thefts total approximately $3, adding that such an amount "is not available at present to rehabilitate the damaged line."
Contacted by L'Orient-Le Jour, a senior source at EDL said Monday that more than 50 electrical stations throughout Lebanon were affected by theft in the previous three days.
"Our infrastructure is constantly stolen by people who sell the cables and the metal of the towers on the black market. Private companies are supposed to take care of the stations and take all the responsibility," the source added. "People in the area currently have no electricity, and will remain without power for at least three months while new cables are pulled."
EDL called on the security forces and local officials to identify those who are attacking the electricity infrastructure.
Metal and cable theft have intensified during Lebanon's unprecedented economic crisis, which has driven up the cost of imported products.