Beirut silo devised by Palestinian-Lebanese banker saved lives during blast: Report
The huge silo at the port of Beirut was meant to store grain, but it served a higher purpose during Tuesday’s explosion: saving lives, according to a report by The National.
The National cited Western security officials on Monday as saying that the building was “crucial” in shielding half of Beirut from greater destruction.
“That building made a major difference. Without it the casualties could have been much worse,” a Western security official told The National.
The blast killed some 200 people and wounded 6,000 others.
The idea of the silo, built in 1968, was first conceived by famous banker Yousef Beidas, according to The National, whose father was Palestinian and mother Lebanese.
Beidas, who passed away just before the silo was constructed, “greatly loved Beirut and its hardworking, civil people,” his son Marwan told The National.
Marwan said “the silos were part of his father's drive to expand Beirut as the trading and financial center of the Middle East,” The National reported.
Neighborhoods in the city’s central area have been devastated by the explosion, with Beirut’s governor Marwan Abboud estimating the cost of damages is between $3 billion and $5 billion, according to the Lebanese National News Agency.
“There are between 250,000 and 300,000 people who are now without homes,” Abboud said.
The explosion registered as a 3.3. magnitude earthquake and was felt across the water in the island country of Cyprus.
The disaster occurred due to large amounts of ammonium nitrate – a highly flammable substance –stored at a “dangerous warehouse” in the port, said Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who has since resigned.
Ministerial sources told Reuters Wednesday that the Lebanese cabinet has decided all Beirut port officials who oversaw storage and security since its establishment in 2014 will be placed under house arrest.