For the residents, the silos were living proof of the tragedies the Lebanese have endured for decades, as the events that shocked the country go unexplained and justice is not served.
The silos that fell on Tuesday were the last of the structurally unsound northern block, according to Emmanuel Durand, a French civil engineer who volunteered to work alongside emergency workers to monitor the structure. Grain that had been fermenting and roasting in the sun for two years caught fire, weakening the silos and beginning the process of collapse – most recently on the second anniversary of the explosion.
In April, the Lebanese government said it had ordered the demolition of all the silos for fear that they would eventually collapse. But activists, victims’ families and engineers opposed the government’s decision, with engineers asserting that the southern bloc was still structurally sound. The families of the victims and independent lawmakers demanded that the southern part be left as a landmark until an independent investigation can be carried out.
A judicial investigation began in 2020 into responsibility for alleged official negligence that allowed 2,750 tons of highly flammable ammonium nitrate to be stored for six years on the edge of a densely populated city. The investigation has been repeatedly stalled, with judges leading investigations being drowned out in court complaints by officials accusing them of a lack of impartiality and demanding immunity from the investigation.
“When you don’t get justice, you still get hurt, you still have closure,” said environmental activist Samer Khoury, 31. “For me, this is no longer called PTSD,” PTSD, but rather CTSD – persistent stress disorder.
If the silos are removed and no longer there as a monument to be seen, Khoury continued, “Somehow, you will stop thinking [the blast] Or even consider it happened.”
An independent lawmaker submitted an urgent bill to Parliament in July, aiming to designate the silos as a national heritage site. But when the bill was put to a vote, the legislative session turned to defamation and the accusation of voter fraud. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri adjourned the session.
Among the many who were named in the judicial investigations into the explosion were officials who were members of Berri’s party, the Amal Movement.
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