Lebanese cabinet approves demolition of grain silos damaged in Beirut port blast
The families of the blast victims have stated that demolishing the silos before the completion of an investigation into the tragedy is an 'injustice'
By News Desk - April 14 2022

View of the grain silo damaged during the 2020 Beirut port explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, taken on 4 April, 2022. (Photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir)

The Lebanese government approved a plan on 14 March to demolish the grain silos in the Port of Beirut that were damaged during the devastating 4 August 2020 explosion which killed hundreds of people.

In a televised statement after the cabinet session, Lebanese Information Minister Ziad Makari stated the decision was due to a “technical report” which assessed that the silos could collapse on their own in the coming months due to existing damages.

A memorial is set to be built in its place.

In February, the families of the Beirut port explosion victims said that demolishing the silos would be an ‘injustice,’ according to interviews with the family members of victims obtained by Al Jazeera.

“Mireille Khoury, whose 15-year-old son Elias lost his life in the explosion, said demolishing the silos would be an injustice. ‘They can’t just take down the silos and start reconstruction as if no explosion happened … As if we didn’t lose our children, as if nothing has happened in this city,’ she told Al Jazeera. ‘They can’t just start building on our corpses and agony.”

In August 2021, a Swiss engineering firm concluded the iconic structures are at risk of collapse as they slowly tilt, stating that “as much as the structure are iconic, facts do show there is no way to ensure safety on even the medium term with the north block remaining as it is.”

The families of victims want the silos to remain as a national symbol until the long-delayed investigation into the Beirut blast is concluded.

The families of the victims have routinely slammed the politicization of the investigation by controversial Lebanese Judge Tarik Bitar, who has been recused from his position over the case due to political bias multiple times. Bitar has been using the tragedy to exact scores against certain political groups that are against US interference in Lebanese affairs.

An October 2021 investigation by The Cradle showed that a large part of the responsibility for the explosion stems from the army’s failure to supervise the proper storage, destruction, or re-exportation of the ammonium nitrate.

The journalist behind the investigation, Radwan Mortada, found himself in legal trouble for allegedly “insulting the military establishment,” and was sentenced to one year imprisonment by Lebanon’s Permanent Military Court on 26 November.

In November 2021, US ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea was revealed to have conspired with members of the Lebanese Forces political party to frame Hezbollah with 20 tons of dangerous ammonium nitrate, the same materials determined to be the cause of the Beirut blast.

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