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MEAS denies responsibility in Beirut flooding
Floods block the tunnel on the highway linking Beirut airport to Khalde, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013.(The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
Floods block the tunnel on the highway linking Beirut airport to Khalde, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013.(The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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BEIRUT: Middle East Airport Services denied Sunday any responsibility in the case of the Beirut tunnel flooding earlier this month.

“MEAS affirms it fully carried out its contracted duty and that it is not responsible for the unfortunate damages that occurred on Dec. 4,” the company said in a statement, adding that it would provide the judiciary investigating the flooding case with the necessary documents and reports.

Earlier this month, heavy rain flooded the tunnel connecting Beirut airport to the capital, leaving hundreds of people stranded in their vehicles for hours while other vehicles drowned in the water.

Lebanon’s financial prosecutor charged Thursday the local company with negligence and sabotage after the severe highway flooding.

The company allegedly failed to carry out storm drain maintenance in the tunnel connecting Beirut to the airport.

In its statement, the company said it was a private shareholder firm which has been carrying out operations and maintenance work at Rafik Hariri International Airport according to a contract with the government signed on Nov. 24, 1998.

It also noted that the firm works under the daily supervision of engineers representing the government.

“The responsibility of MEAS regarding the tunnel since 2005 and according to the original contract is limited to maintenance and operating of water pumping stations and sewage systems inside the tunnel,” the company said, adding that sewage system outside the tunnel was not part of its assigned tasks.

The company said the water rose to 1.6 meters inside the tunnel due to the overflow of the Ghadir river, citing a report by a state-run engineering house issued on Dec. 12. It also said that the report indicate MEAS was not responsible for the tunnel's flooding.

“MEAS is not responsible for any maintenance work on the sewage outside the tunnel,” it added.

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