SIDON, Lebanon: A Palestinian diver was killed Sunday in the southern coastal city of Sidon after a rock fell on his head while he rested next to the local waste dump.
Eye witnesses said that a huge rock fell on 53-year-old Nizam Mousa while he was leaning against the dump wall, killing him instantly.
The area where Mousa was killed was described by witnesses as next to a very steep slope of scrap and trash.
Mousa is among a group of divers who plunge into the sea to salvage and sell scrap copper and iron that falls in from the neighboring waste dump.
The police arrived at the scene shortly after the incident and pulled Mousa’s body from the dump with the help of residents, after it was stuck between rocks.
The civil defense team assisted in the recovery operation, while an investigation is into the circumstances of the incident is ongoing.
Divers such as Mousa sell the scrap metals they find. The trade is a source of livelihood for dozens of poor Lebanese and Palestinian families. Members of Mousa’s family, present at the dump, said Mousa worked 12 hours a day to provide for his family
The Sidon dump is composed of over around 2 million cubic meters of waste that frequently falls off directly into the sea. The dump has been a blight on the city and the coastal waters for years and recently caught fire, covering the city in smoke. Efforts to clean up the area have yet to achieve tangible progress.
At the beginning of October the Sidon Municipality began a project to close down the dump and convert it into a park. The Environment Ministry and United Nations are working on plans to help in the closure.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 15, 2012, on page 4.