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Lebanon Crisis: Fire breaks out in Zaha Hadid shopping mall in Beirut

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Firefighters extinguish the flames of a blaze that engulfed a modern listed building, designed by the late world-famous British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, in central Beirut on September 15, 2020Image copyright
AFP

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It was not immediately known what caused the fire in downtown Beirut Souks

A fire broke out in a shopping mall being built in Beirut, setting the third flame in a week in a city still shaking from a devastating explosion in August.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames that damaged a corner of the Beirut Souks mesh roof.

There were no reports of injuries and the cause of the fire is not yet known.

The building was designed by the practice of renowned late British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid.

Born in Baghdad, Dame Zaha studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut – where she later designed a campus building that was completed in 2014 – before beginning her career at the London Architecture Association.

Her other creations include the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London, the Riverside Museum in Glasgow’s Museum of Transport and the Guangzhou Opera House in China.

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Beirut Souks is located in a commercial neighborhood near the city port, where a blast six weeks ago killed nearly 200 people, injured 6,000 others and caused up to $ 4.6 billion ($ 3.6 billion) in physical damage and $ 3.5 billion in economic damage.

The disaster, which is still under investigation, occurred when a fire caused the explosion of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been stored unsafe.

Firefighters put out a blaze at the Beirut Souks shopping mall, which is under construction in Beirut, Lebanon (September 15, 2020)Image copyright
Reuters

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The mall is located in a shopping district near the port of Beirut

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Firefighters extinguish the flames of a blaze in a modern building in Beirut, September 15, 2020.Image copyright
AFP

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Firefighters quickly extinguish the flames

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Last week, two fires in the port sparked alarm and anger among residents, who have accused the ruling elite of corruption, negligence and mismanagement.

Last Tuesday was a small fire that quickly went out and a larger fire Thursday at a port depot where aid was being stored.

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More on the Beirut bombing

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An investigation into the recent blaze revealed that sparks from a chainsaw may have been the cause.

“Terribly horrible. It’s unbelievable,” jogger Joe Sayegh told Reuters news agency as he stood near the Beirut Souks after the last fire on Tuesday. “Every day we have a problem.”

A man controls the damage after a fire broke out in a marked building in the Beirut shopping district, Lebanon, September 15, 2020.Image copyright
Getty Images

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The flames damaged a corner of the Beirut Souks mesh roof

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Facades a new Beirut shopping complex designed by the late British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid.  To the left is the Majidiyah Mosque of the Lebanese capital.  5 August 2020Image copyright
AFP

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Beirut Souks Center was still under construction (Photo file from August 2020)

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Lebanon was already recovering from an economic crisis that had caused its currency to plummet, raising unemployment and plunging many into poverty.

The government resigned after the Beirut bombing, and Western powers are demanding that its replacement implement reforms to unblock financial aid.

“If they are the same people, nothing will change,” Mr Sayegh said.

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