“Confiscating fuel tanks, controlling power stations, storming hospitals with guns to force treating a patient and not respecting the law … this is simply chaos.”
People in Lebanon have seized gasoline tanks, stormed electricity stations, and even set fire to the home of a guy accused of being responsible for a tragic petrol tank explosion due to severe fuel shortages and a thriving illicit market.
The country’s gasoline problem has been exacerbated by central bank governor Riad Salameh’s decision last week to end state subsidies on fuel imports, which have depleted foreign currency reserves.
The majority of gas stations closed, and diesel fuel for generators was difficult to get by outside of an unpredictable black market with astronomical costs.
Despite the fact that the central bank had been forced to finance traders who were not delivering their product to the market, Salameh claimed that more than $800 million had been spent on a three-month supply of fuel imports in the previous month, he claimed that there was no diesel, gasoline, or electricity.
The governor said he would stick to his decision unless a parliamentary vote legalizes the use of compulsory reserves, which are a percentage of deposits that must be preserved by law.
The gasoline shortfall, which has been blamed on smuggling, stockpiling, and the government’s inability to obtain sufficient supplies, has heightened the rage of an exhausted population facing a complete power outage. Hospitals, bakeries, and a variety of other companies have been compelled to reduce or cease operations.
On social media, footage of enraged individuals seizing trucks carrying gasoline and fuel as they passed through their neighborhoods or towns has gone viral.
The Lebanese Army began storming shuttered gas stations, concealing fuel and giving it to ecstatic citizens as well as desperately needed hospitals and bakeries.
However, a fatal event occurred early Sunday morning in the town of Tleil in the northern Akkar district, when a fuel tank captured by the army exploded as 200 people gathered with their plastic jugs to carry a piece of the 60,000 liters of gasoline. Over 28 people were murdered, and nearly 80 were injured, many of them were severely burned. The cause of the explosion remained unknown at the time.
An enraged mob set fire to the three-story house and vehicles of the owner of the warehouse where the explosion happened the following day.
Lebanon has progressively fallen into darkness as private generators have shut down and the public electricity utility can only offer power for a few hours per day. Small groups of individuals in various places, suffocated by the summer heat, assaulted eight power stations and began providing additional electricity to their neighborhoods at the risk of disrupting the company’s power supplies.
“It is an unorganized chaos moving from one area to another,” Marwan Charbel, a retired brigadier-general and former interior minister, told UPI. “Confiscating fuel tanks, controlling power stations, storming hospitals with guns to force treating a patient and not respecting the law … this is simply chaos.”