'Unbelievable': Another fire in Beirut unnerves shattered residents

'Unbelievable': Another fire in Beirut unnerves shattered residents

'Unbelievable': Another fire in Beirut unnerves shattered residents
Lebanese firefighters douse the flames of a blaze that engulfed a landmark modern building, designed by the late world-renowned British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, in central Beirut on Sep 15, 2020. (Photo: AFP / ANWAR AMRO)

BEIRUT: A fire erupted in a landmark building in Beirut's commercial district on Tuesday (Sep 15), the second blaze this month to send shudders through a capital still in shock after a massive port blast in August ripped through the Mediterranean city.

There were no immediate reports of casualties and the blaze was quickly extinguished, but it left residents exasperated in a nation that has been hammered by a deep economic crisis and which is waiting for its politicians to form a new government.

"It's terrible. It's unbelievable," said Joe Sayegh, 48, who had been on a jog through the city before coming to the scene. "Every day we have a problem."

READ: Lebanese firefighters douse remains of Beirut port fire

READ: Blast-hit Beirut begins timid recovery

Fire trucks quickly doused the flames that charred a corner of the futuristic building designed by the practice set up by the late Zaha Hadid, the renowned British-Iraqi architect.

Firefighters and people gather near the site of a fire that broke out in a building in Central Beir
Firefighters and people gather near the site of a fire that broke out in a building in Central Beirut, Lebanon on Sep 15, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Ahmad el Kerdi)

The building near the seafront which has been under construction for years and its curved lines have become a prominent feature of the central commercial area rebuilt from the 1975-1990 civil war.

During the reconstruction, skyscrapers designed by international architects have gone up and historical Ottoman-era buildings have been renovated.

But protests during an economic crisis that was caused by a mountain of debt had already driven many businesses out of the city centre and left many buildings scarred, before the Aug 4 port blast ruined another swathe of the capital.

A man uses a water hose to put out a fire that broke out in a building in Central Beirut
A man uses a water hose to put out a fire that broke out in a building in Central Beirut, Lebanon on Sep 15, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Ahmad el Kerdi)

The government resigned after the port blast, which was blamed on highly explosive ammonium nitrate kept in poor storage conditions for years. This month, a big port fire flared up among the ruined warehouses, adding to the devastation.

France is pressing Lebanon to form a new government to tackle endemic corruption and implement reforms to unlock aid. But many Lebanese remain sceptical that Lebanon's political elite can chart a new course.

"With these people, if they are the same people, nothing will change," Sayegh said.

Source: Reuters/ic

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