BEIRUT (Reuters) – A fire broke out in a historic building in Beirut’s shopping district on Tuesday, the second fire this month to send shivers through a capital still in shock following a massive port explosion in August that erupted in the Mediterranean city.
There were no immediate reports of casualties and the fire was quickly extinguished, but he left residents irritated in a nation hit by a deep economic crisis and awaiting his politicians to form a new government.
Terribly terrible. It’s incredible, said Joe Sayegh, 48, who had been on a city run before taking the stage. Every day we have a problem.
Fire trucks quickly extinguished the flames burning a corner of the futuristic building designed by the practice set up by the late Zaha Hadid, the well-known British-Iraqi architect.
The building near the coast which has been under construction for years and its curved lines have become a prominent feature of the central shopping area rebuilt by the 1975-1990 civil war.
During the reconstruction, skyscrapers designed by international architects were glued and historic buildings of the Ottoman era were renovated.
But protests during an economic crisis sparked by a debt mountain had already driven many businesses out of the city center and left many buildings damaged, before the August 4th port blast destroyed another part of the capital.
The government resigned after the port blast, which was blamed for highly explosive ammonium nitrate kept in poor storage conditions for years. This month, a large port fire broke out among the destroyed warehouses, adding to the devastation.
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 the Lebanese political elite can devise a new course.
With these people, if they are the same people, nothing will change, Sayegh said.
Additional reporting by Tom Perry; Written by Edmund Blair; Edited by Andrew Heavens and Ed Osmond
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