A fire has broken out in a building in the center of Beirut near the city’s port, where an explosion last month killed nearly 200 people, injured thousands and left the city’s residents traumatized.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire in one of the city’s most famous buildings, which was the work of the late Iraqi-born British architect, Zaha Hadid.
The oval building was still under construction and sits on the main road that passes the harbor.
“It’s awful. It’s unbelievable,” said Joe Sayegh, 48, who had been jogging through the city before coming to the scene. “Every day we have a problem.”
Lebanese television station al-Jadeed showed earlier images of smoke billowing from the building near the Beirut Souks, a 100,000-square-foot shopping mall in the city center.
Good morning – in today’s news from #Lebanon, a huge fire broke out in the Beirut souks in one of Zaha Hadid’s signature design buildings. pic.twitter.com/Ahs1pIc0bf
– Luna Safwan – Luna Safwan (@LunaSafwan) September 15, 2020
A civil defense official said they extinguished the fire, adding that an investigation will be opened. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
“We received a call that there is a fire near the Majidieh Mosque. When we first arrived, the fire was very strong. This is a building under construction known as the oval building in Beirut’s markets,” said Fadi Mazboudi, a member of the fire department. .
“Thank God, firefighters and civil defense were able to put the fire under control as quickly as possible despite the limited capacity.”
It was the third fire in the area within a week after two recent fires in the port of Beirut, including a huge fire on Thursday, that caused panic among the residents. Another flame earlier this month was quickly extinguished. The causes of these fires are unclear.
Beirut residents are still shaken by the fire that led to a huge explosion on August 4, killing nearly 200 people, injuring 6,500 and causing billions of dollars worth of damage.
The explosion of about 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, which was stored in the port for six years, also left a quarter of a million people homeless.
The cause of the explosion and the fire that led to it are still being investigated. The blast led to the resignation of the government six days later.
Lebanon is gripped by an unprecedented economic crisis and financial collapse, blamed for decades of mismanagement and corruption by an entrenched political class.
France is pressuring Lebanon to form a new government to tackle endemic corruption and implement reforms to unlock aid. But many Lebanese remain skeptical that Lebanon’s political elite can chart a new course.
“With these people, if they are the same people, nothing will change,” Sayegh said.
Al Jazeera and news agencies