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The stinking streets of Beirut

Following the closure of the capital's largest landfill, rotting garbage lies uncollected in the streets, prompting concerns of a health crisis
Garbage dumps seen on the streets of Beirut, Lebanon on 21 July 2015 (AA)

For the fourth day in a row Beirut is literally stinking, as piles of garbage crowd street corners and pavements.

The city’s largest waste dump, the Naameh landfill, shut down last weekend over growing concerns that it had reached its maximum capacity.

The landfill, located south of Beirut, has been in operation since 1997.

Residents living around the landfill have blocked roads, in order to prevent trucks from reaching it to unload rubbish out of fear that it could be reopened.

Workers from the main cleaning company, Sukleen, are sweeping the streets but not picking up any of the refuse. They have sprayed the rubbish piles with white powder to prevent pests and to reduce the effect of the putrid smell.

The spokesperson for Sukleen, Pascale Nassar, said that the company is waiting for directives from the government on how best to proceed.

Lebanon has been facing a different crisis in the political realm, as parliament has failed to elect a president for more than 400 days now. The political stalemate has threatened to affect basic city services, with no strategic solution for such crises.

Mohammad Machnouk, the environment minister, stated that a solution will be found at Thursday’s Cabinet session.

In some parts of the city, some piles were set on fire, prompting outcries that such an act will further contribute to health hazards.

Residents of Beirut tweeted out photos of the rubbish, with many likening the literal image of the rotting waste to the country’s political disorder.

Others pointed out that escapism was the best way to deal with a city reeking with the rotting smells under the baking sun.