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The Daily Star
FRIDAY, 18 APR 2014
04:13 PM Beirut time
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Beirut airport operator says it was not responsible for flooding
Civil defense workers try to re-open the tunnel on the highway linking Beirut airport to Khalde, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013.(The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
Civil defense workers try to re-open 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 said Monday it had no role in the flooding in Beirut earlier this month, adding its work was limited to water pumping stations and canals inside the Beirut tunnel and did not include the Ghadir River, where the flooding occurred.

“The mission of the company MEAS ... since 2005 and according to the amendments of the original contract and its additions, is limited to the maintenance and operation of water-pumping stations and their affiliated sewage canals, which include one station in each of the two tunnels, and MEAS is not responsible for the maintenance of any canal outside the tunnels,” a statement released by the company said.

MEAS denied Sunday any responsibility for the Beirut tunnel flooding.

Earlier this month, heavy rain flooded the tunnel connecting the 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 Ali Ibrahim charged the local company last week with negligence and sabotage for the severe highway flooding.

According to the indictment, 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 that 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 company reiterated Monday that it was not responsible for the flooding, and said it would provide documents supporting their claim “at the disposal of the judiciary to uncover the truth.”

MEAS also said that according to the official report of the Meteorology Department on Dec. 4, the amount of rainfall able to accumulate inside the tunnel cannot exceed 20 centimeters, a relatively small amount that the water pumps can handle and which does not pose any hindrance to traffic.

The amount of rainfall on the day of the flooding, however, reached a level of 6.1 meters.

The damage was caused by the flooding of the Ghadir River, according to a state-run engineering firm’s consultant’s report, “which confirms that the Ghadir River and its course is outside the scope of the work of MEAS and its contract with the Lebanese government,” the statement added.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 24, 2013, on page 3.
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