A huge fire has broken out in a storage tank at one of Lebanon’s main oil facilities in the country’s south, sending orange flames and a thick black column of smoke into the sky.
Firefighters rushed to the scene and are battling the blaze in a giant petrol tanker in the coastal town of Zahrani.
The state-run National News Agency said it is not immediately clear what caused the fire that was still raging more than two hours after it broke out.
The report said no workers were nearby when the fire started. Lebanese troops have closed the main road linking Beirut with southern Lebanon that passes through Zahrani.
Lebanon is struggling through a serious power crisis that has resulted in electricity cuts lasting up to 22 hours a day.
The head of the civil defence, Raymound Khattar, told the local MTV station that they believe there were 300,000 litres of petrol in the tanker.
Mr Khattar added that work is focused on extinguishing the fire and cooling down a nearby tanker, to keep it from igniting.
In August 2020, a blaze at Beirut’s port triggered a massive explosion that killed at least 215 people, injured thousands and destroyed the facility and nearby neighbourhoods.
Earlier this year, a German company found dangerous nuclear material stored at the facility in Zahrani.
Eight small containers that weighed less than 4.4lbs containing depleted uranium salts were removed shortly afterwards.
The material has been stored at the facility since the 1950s, when it was run by the Mediterranean Refinery Company, or Medreco.
Medreco was an American company whose main shareholders were Mobil and Caltex and it was active in Lebanon for four decades until the late 1980s.