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04:43 PM Beirut time
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Storms cause flood damage along Beirut River
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BEIRUT: The heavy rain and strong winds afflicting Lebanon since Saturday snapped a bridge in the Karantina area and flooded the Beirut River.

At 9.45 pm yesterday, a bridge next to the Beirut Port and the Beirut slaughterhouse near Bourj-Hammoud collapsed due to water pressure.

An increase in the level of water in the Beirut River led to high pressure in the river's water bed, causing the bridge's foundations to shift  and the bridge to buckle.

The incident led Fadi Naaman, General Manager of the Public Works and Transport Ministry, to rush to the scene and direct a team of workers who cleared debris to lessen water pressure and reinforced barriers on the side.

"The bridge was constructed by the privately owned waste disposal company Sukleen, and it was used by garbage trucks to reach the company building at the other end of the river bank," Public Works Minister Yassin Jaber told The Daily Star.

"The bridge's foundations were so large that they caused a bottle-neck in the river, which caused the water to overflow from the river bed. The water pressure on the bridge's foundation caused the bridge to collapse," he said.

Had the accident happened during the day, Jaber said, it could have been a tragedy, as many Sukleen trucks frequently use the bridge.

The swollen Beirut River on Sunday devastated the Beirut slaughterhouse and swamped the Bourj-Hammoud fish market.

Karantina and Bourj-Hammoud inhabitants complained of an incessant bad smell because of fish and bovine corpses. Winds up to 75 kilometers-per-hour spread the odor throughout the area.

"I live in an area commonly called Fiat, which is approximately at the border between Achrafieh and Jissr al-Wati, and we can still smell the corpses," said Zeina Khoury, a 24 year-old resident.

According to an unimplemented plan issued in November by the Public Works and Transport Ministry, the Sukleen-constructed bridge ought to be replaced by a wider bridge that doesn't obstruct the water flow.

Moreover, according to the plan, reinforced cement walls should be positioned on each side of the Beirut River, all the way to the sea.

In another storm-related accident, a cargo ship flying the North Korean flag ran aground on the Lebanese coast Monday. A Lebanese security official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said that the ships' captain, Edward Kijurdaze, reported that he lost control of the vessel during the storm. The captain said he left Port Said in Egypt on Saturday and was bound for the Syrian port of Latakia.

The meteorological department at the Beirut International Airport forecasted an improvement in the weather starting on Thursday. - With agencies

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