Beirut blast: Germany's Siemens to provide free electricity for 150,000

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - In the wake of the Beirut explosion, Germany’s Siemens is sending generators to provide free electricity to 150,000 people in a country that even before the blast suffered daily power outages.

The announcement comes just over a week after an explosion at Beirut port ripped through the city causing untold damage, killing 171 people and wounding over 6,000.

The blast has been blamed on thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate being stored at Beirut port. In the wake of the disaster, foreign dignitaries have rushed to the city and countries around the world are sending aid.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas views the damage at the site of a massive explosion at Beirut port, Lebanon on August 12. REUTERS

During a visit with Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Mass to Beirut on Wednesday, Siemens President and CEO Joe Kaeser announced the assistance that also includes medical supplies.

The company is sending two A45-GT gas turbines to Beirut able to produce up to 80 megawatts of power at a cost of $80 million (Dh293m) for free. The units will be operational within six to 12 weeks and discussions are already ongoing with local partners, the company said.

“We want to provide rapid, focused support to help relieve people’s suffering quickly and with no red tape,” Mr Kaeser said. “Medical systems and electric power are vital here, and Siemens can supply both. As a global company, we feel a clear obligation to support the country and its people in this difficult situation.”

Even before the disaster, Lebanon suffered daily power outages. Usually at least three hours in the capital, outside Beirut it can extend upwards of 12 hours a day. However, in recent months the electricity crisis has deteriorated with power cuts in Beirut extending around the clock.

Even as it is unable to provide reliable power, the state electricity company also costs Lebanon upwards of $1bn a year and is responsible for a sizable chunk of the country's enormous $92.4 billion debt.

“Given the damage to the local infrastructure, vital services like hospitals urgently need reliable electric power, and this fast solution could provide significant support for the city and its population,” the company said.

“The tragedy that struck Beirut early in August has saddened us all. …We’re in a position to provide fast and uncomplicated assistance to the people of Beirut, and so we feel a responsibility in this situation to help wherever we can. We’re ready to secure a reliable, affordable supply of electricity for the people of Lebanon and help them rebuild their country,” said Siemens Energy CEO Christian Bruch.

The company’s medical arm, Siemens Healthineers, is sending ultrasound and mobile x-ray units to local hospitals damaged in the explosion.

“Our hearts and minds are with the people of Beirut in this particularly difficult situation,” said Bernd Montag, CEO of Siemens Healthineers.

Updated: August 13, 2020 11:04 AM

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