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After Beirut blast, another fire engulfs port area

Another huge fire has erupted at a port in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, only weeks after a massive explosion gutted the same area and surroundings of the city.

Thursday’s blaze, which engulfed parts of the city in a pall of smoke, Started in the shattered duty free zone of the port, prompting some residents to flee.

The latest fire comes with most Lebanese still reeling from the devastating blast of August 4, when 190 people were killed and more than 6,000 injured. It also comes as some 300,000 Beirut residents are still without habitable homes.

As firefighters battled to bring Thursday’s blaze under control, Army helicopters could be seen dropping water.

By evening, officials said most flames had been extinguished.

Smoke still rose from smouldering wreckage but it was far less dense.

Officials said no one had been injured, but the blaze strained nerves already on edge in a country grappling with a crunching economic crisis that has posed the biggest threat to Lebanon since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The cause of the port fire remains disputed.

Michel Najjar, a Minister in the outgoing Government, told Lebanon’s Murr Television on Thursday night that initial indications suggested the blaze was triggered by welding work during repairs at the port.

But Reuters quoted a military source as saying it appeared to have started when cooking oil caught fire and spread to stores of tyres.

At one point, live television footage had shown flames climbing near a pile of tires in a warehouse destroyed by last month’s explosion.

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