Middle East

Lebanon rubbish: Storm dumps piles of waste along coast

The beach of the coastal town of Zouk Mosbeh, north of Beirut, covered with waste washed along the shore after stormy weather. 23 Jan 2017 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Heavy seas washed the debris on to beaches north of Beirut

A huge clean-up operation is under way in Lebanon after a powerful storm dumped piles of rubbish along beaches north of the capital, Beirut.

Pictures of the washed-up waste - much of it plastic - strewn along the coast have caused a public outcry.

Problems with rubbish are nothing new in Lebanon.

In 2015 piles of uncollected waste sparked street protests and a campaign called "You Stink", referring both to the detritus and to political inaction.

Environmentalists and politicians say the latest scenes show that more needs to be done.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Environmentalists say the rubbish comes from dumps dotted along the coast

Samy Gemayel, an opposition MP and the leader of the (Maronite Christian) Phalangist Party, said the waste had been washed into the sea from rubbish dumps along the coast.

He called for senior officials to be held to account.

"I am speechless as I see the tremendous amount of garbage that was forced here by last week's storm," he told a news conference.

"Whoever defended and allowed the establishment of landfills along the coastline is to be held responsible for this disaster."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Teams of workers have been drafted in to clean the beaches
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The beach at the coastal town of Zouk Mosbeh was coated in a tide of waste

Joslin Kehdy, who heads the environmental group Recycle Lebanon, said the expansion of the landfill sites should be stopped.

"Were constantly cleaning up this beach," he told the Daily Star Lebanon. "Each time a storm comes this beach is filled with rubbish again."

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri has told authorities to clear up the coastline and to "move quickly to address the problem".

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