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Report: Lebanon's Beirut port fully operational after blast

A view of the Port of Beirut after a fire at a warehouse with explosives led to massive blasts on 4th August in Beirut, Lebanon on August 13, 2020. [Aysu Biçer - Anadolu Agency]
A view of the Port of Beirut after a fire at a warehouse with explosives led to massive blasts on 4th August in Beirut, Lebanon on 13 August 2020 [Aysu Biçer/Anadolu Agency]

Lebanon's Beirut port is now fully operational for imports and exports after the devastating 4 August blast, according to Bassem Al Qaisi, the newly appointed director of the port, the National reports.

The blast, which killed nearly 200, injured thousands more and caused material damage miles away from the site of the explosion, levelled Beirut's port, destroying its giant grain silos and warehouses.

Only four of Beirut port's 16 cranes were destroyed in the blast, however, meaning that just three weeks after the explosion, the port is "100 per cent operational", Al Qaisi was quoted by the National as saying.

Between 11 and 23 August, Beirut's port received 78,000 tonnes of grain, flour, wheat and corn, as part of a drive to protect Lebanon's food security after the blast disrupted already fragile supply chains.

Despite being operational, however, Beirut's port remains unable to store goods.

Storage in the port is currently only 40 per cent of the volume it was before the explosion with at least another year of work expected before warehouse capabilities can return to pre-blast levels, according to the National's report.

READ: France sends reform roadmap to Lebanon

Explaining the 12-month-long wait to the National, Al Qaisi, who was appointed director of the port for a six-month term on 11 August after his predecessor was arrested as part of a probe into the blast, said: "The reasons that it will take a year is that there is a lot of foreign aid and donations which will take some time. We also have to hire contractors to build warehouses and launch tenders."

Adding that port authorities "are really focusing on putting the port back on its feet because there is a lot of damage on the logistics buildings in the free zone and in administrative buildings. There are no warehouses for dry goods. We need a fire station and a water tank. Such issues take time."

In the meantime, the port of Tripoli, Lebanon's northern capital, is reportedly taking up the slack receiving 15 per cent of Beirut's usual cargo, including items which require onsite storage.

Tripoli's port is also half a metre deeper than Beirut's, meaning the northern city can receive bigger ships with larger quantities of cargo than Lebanon's capital.

READ: Lebanon discovers 25 containers of dangerous materials in Beirut port

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