Fire erupts in building near Beirut’s port, cause unclear

BEIRUT (AP) — A fire broke out Tuesday in a downtown Beirut building near the city’s port where an explosion last month killed nearly 200 people, injured thousands and left the city’s residents traumatized.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire in the building that was the work of late Iraq-born British architect Zaha Hadid. The building is still under construction and sits on the main road that passes by the port.

A Civil Defense official said firefighters have extinguished the fire, adding that an investigation will be opened. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

It was the third mysterious fire in the area within a week, following two recent fires at the port of Beirut, including a huge one on Thursday that raised panic among residents. Another blaze earlier last week was extinguished quickly. The causes of the fires are unclear.

Beirut’s residents are still shaken by the massive explosion in Beirut’s port on Aug. 4 that killed at least 190 people, injured 6,500 and caused billions of dollars in damages, including to tens of thousands of homes. It followed a fire that ignited nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate stored at the port for six years. The cause of that fire is still under investigation.

The explosion led to the government’s resignation six days later.

Lebanon is gripped by an unprecedented economic crisis and financial collapse, blamed on decades of mismanagement and corruption by an entrenched political class.

Last month’s blast is seen as the culmination of leaders unable to manage the country’s affairs or protect its people. So far, authorities have been unable to provide answers about the explosion, and there has been no accountability for it.

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