Another explosion has hit Beirut, this time caused by a diesel tank which blew up, on Friday night, inside a building, leaving four dead and injuring dozens, the Lebanese Red Cross announced.
It was not immediately clear what triggered the blast in the Lebanese capital’s western neighbourhood of Tariq Al-Jadida. Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency (NNA) said the blaze erupted inside a bakery in the building’s basement.
Fire-fighters evacuated people from buildings surrounding the site, using mobile ladders, with reports saying that the explosion could be heard across the city.
They managed to put out the flames and helped residents trapped in their apartments by the fire climb down ladders. Lebanese troops were also deployed to the area and pushed back onlookers.
Local media reported that more than 30 people were hurt in the incident, with a medical source adding that three children were hospitalised with burns.
A security source said the fire took hold in an underground premise, reportedly a warehouse, where the fuel oil tank was also being stored, according to Fire Brigade Lieutenant Ali Najm. He added that the cause of the fire remains unknown.
The authorities have arrested the diesel tank’s owner who reportedly manages one of the many private generator services that supply Beirut’s residents with electricity when frequent power outages occur, according to officials.
The city was recently severely damaged, in August, by one of the country’s largest accidental explosions which killed about 203 people and injured at least 6,500 others.
Beirut’s Governor Marwan Aboud told local media that in the last two weeks the city’s municipal authorities have been inspecting for warehouses that could pose a danger to residential areas. He said that around 100 sites had been identified as suspect.
“We feared that such an accident could happen,” Aboud said, adding that the government “have ordered some of them to close and required others to put in place procedures to protect the public.”