Syria & Lebanon

Fire in Zaha Hadid building in downtown Beirut

A fire broke out in the downtown district of Beirut this morning and was extinguished shortly after by firefighters, according to local media reports.

The fire erupted in an under-construction department store located in the northern part of the Beirut souks.

The building, which was designed by the late British-Iraqi Dame Zaha Hadid, was under construction but was nearing completion, according to sources cited by Al Arabiya.

Footage which circulated on social media showed the side of the futuristic styled building engulfed in orange flames and billowing black smoke.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear, however, a member of the Beirut Fire Brigade told Arab News the flames were mostly confined to the exterior of the building.

An official from the Lebanese Civil Defence, later said the flames had been extinguished, adding that an investigation into the cause of the blaze would be opened.

Today’s fire is the third to ravage Beirut in seven days, after two blazes broke out in the city’s port last week.

On Thursday, a blaze broke out in one of Beirut port’s warehouses creating a massive plume of smoke which engulfed the city’s skies.

The fire, which was fuelled by containers of engine oil and car tyres, according to the Lebanese army, was quickly extinguished.

However, the successive fires have caused widespread panic among Beirut’s residents, many of whom remain traumatised after a similar blaze broke out on 4 August and led to a massive explosion, which devastated the city.

Last month’s explosion, which happened when 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate ignited and exploded, killed nearly 200 and injured thousands more.

The blast also caused widespread material damage, leaving an estimated 300,000 of the city’s residents homeless.

Lebanon is also facing an unprecedented economic and financial crisis which has frequently been blamed on government corruption and negligence.

The 4 August explosion, which forced the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government, has been seen as a culmination of decades of political mismanagement.

In the aftermath of the blast, the international community, including former colonial power France, have pushed for widespread reforms, long demanded by the Lebanese people, to stem the country’s collapse.

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