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Fire erupts at fuel storage facility as shortages continue in Lebanon

11 October 2021

Firefighters managed to extinguish a significant fire at a tank farm in southern Lebanon on October 11. No injuries have been reported as a result of the incident at the Zahrani oil facility, although it took firefighters several hours to bring the blaze under control.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

The incident at the facility on Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast comes at a time when the country is battling an economic crisis and severe fuel shortage. The fire caused a large plume of dark smoke to rise into the sky and destroyed a gasoline storage tank.

Lebanon’s Energy Minister, Walid Fayad, told reporters that the incident happened as a result of a “mistake” while gasoline was being transferred between storage tanks. He added that an investigation is underway to find the exact cause of the fire.

According to the head of the fuel storage facility, Ziad el-Zein, around 250,000 litres of petrol is thought to have burnt during the incident. El-Zein added that despite resources being stretched thin due to Lebanon’s financial crisis, the tank facility was well maintained. He added that had the facility not conducted preventative maintenance and followed regulations, the incident could have been a catastrophe.

Firefighters spent most of the morning tackling the fire and cooling the surrounding area with the help of 25 fire trucks while the Lebanese army re-directed road traffic away from the facility near the city of Zahrani. The area is also home to some of the country’s major power plants, including the Zahrani plant which had to shut down completely in recent days due to fuel shortages.
The shortages have seen attempts to hoard fuel in the country. In August, a fuel tank explosion killed at least 20 people and injured 80 others in Lebanon’s Akkar region after the army attempted to confiscate a fuel tank from hoarders.

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