Beirut on fire again: Third blaze after devastating port blast

Beirut faced fresh misery today as a third fire broke out in the space of a week in a city still reeling from the catastrophic port explosion which killed nearly 200 people last month. 

Black clouds of smoke were pouring from the futuristic Zaha Hadid-designed shopping centre today on the main road that passes by the port in central Beirut. 

The cause of the fire is not clear, but firefighters doused the bright red flames with water hoses fired from a crane into the smouldering facade of the building. 

Three fires in the last week have brought fresh anguish to a city still in shock from the August 4 blast that devastated Beirut and unleashed a wave of outrage at corruption and incompetence among Lebanon's elite. 

While Emmanuel Macron is spearheading efforts to turn the country around, France is on a collision course with Washington which warned today that the crisis could not be resolved without addressing Hezbollah's arms supplies. 

A crowd gathers around the Zaha Hadid-designed shopping centre which caught fire in Beirut today in the third blaze to hit the city since August's catastrophic explosion

A crowd gathers around the Zaha Hadid-designed shopping centre which caught fire in Beirut today in the third blaze to hit the city since August's catastrophic explosion 

The fire broke out on the main road that passes by the port where the explosion took place in central Beirut

Black clouds of smoke were pouring from the futuristic shopping centre today

Black clouds of smoke were pouring from the futuristic shopping centre today on the main road that passes by the port where the explosion took place in central Beirut

The building that caught fire today has been under construction for years but its curved lattice has become a prominent feature of the central commercial area that was rebuilt after the 1975-90 civil war.   

During the reconstruction, skyscrapers designed by international architects have gone up and historical Ottoman-era buildings have been renovated.  

But Lebanon's economic crisis had driven many businesses out of the city centre even before the August 4 blast ruined another swathe of the capital.  

Witnesses at the scene today saw firefighters use a crane to aim water hoses at the charred facade of the building.

'What was on fire was the insulation that separates the outside from the inside' of the building, a civil defence officer said.

'We were able in the fastest time possible to control' the blaze, he said. 

Today's emergency follows a small fire at the port last Tuesday and another huge fire on Thursday at a port warehouse where food aid was stored.  

Both the explosion and port fires have revived popular outrage against a political class accused of being inept, corrupt and unable to ensure public safety

Firefighters are lifted up by a crane to extinguish the fire which broke out at Beirut Souks on Tuesday. The cause of the fire is not yet known

Firefighters are lifted up by a crane to extinguish the fire which broke out at Beirut Souks on Tuesday. The cause of the fire is not yet known 

People watch as firefighters are hoisted up in a crane and water hoses are aimed at the curved lattice of the building in Beirut today

People watch as firefighters are hoisted up in a crane and water hoses are aimed at the curved lattice of the building in Beirut today 

The ruined facade of the building after a fire in what one civil defence official said was the insulation between the interior and the outside of the building

The ruined facade of the building after a fire in what one civil defence official said was the insulation between

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