dpa, Hamburg, Germany
Beirut (dpa) – Panic engulfed the city of Beirut on Thursday as a huge fire broke out at a warehouse storing tyres and oils, a little more than a month after a massive blast at the same spot in the Lebanese capital’s port area.
The army said operations to extinguish the blaze were under way, including with the help of helicopters.
People in offices near the Beirut port were asked to leave the premises immediately, a witness told dpa, as heavy black smoke billowed over the city.
Secretary general of the Lebanese Red Cross, George Kettnah, said that one person suffered breathing problems but that otherwise no severe injuries were reported.
He said all their teams were on standby and assured the Lebanese that they had nothing to worry about.
“We are trying to contain the fire, things are better, but rubber tyres usually take time to extinguish,” Brigadier Raymond Khattar, secretary general of the civil defence, told dpa.
Khattar asked people to close their windows to avoid inhaling the smoke.
Chaos erupted across the city, especially on roads leading to the port, as people working inside were seen running out of the facility.
Policemen on the streets were asking drivers not to take the highway near the port, and drivers who were in the area left their vehicles and took shelter inside nearby buildings and shops.
Security forces were asking everyone, including journalists, to stay away from the scene.
Earlier this week, a smaller fire erupted inside the port, but it was contained quickly.
On August 4, a massive explosion took place when a warehouse at the port containing ammonium nitrate caught fire. The explosion killed more than 190 people, wounded 6,000 and left some 300,000 homeless.
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